The wait is over. After spending his entire life looking forward to this day, C.J. McCollum ’13 was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2013 NBA Draft. He was the 10th overall selection.
“I’m blessed to be in the position to represent my home city, my university, my friends and my family,” McCollum said.
Amid the cheers of family, friends and the Lehigh fans in attendance, McCollum shook the hand of NBA commissioner David Stern, donned the hat of his new team, and acknowledged the capacity crowd gathered at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., home of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.
Lehigh fans can expect to see McCollum on the court next fall, at the start of the 2013-2014 NBA season. But first, he will take the court for the Trail Blazers at the NBA Summer League 2013
in Las Vegas, Nev. from July 12-22 at The Thomas & Mack Center and COX Pavilion on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Tickets for the NBA Summer League 2013 are on sale now through UNLVtickets.com or by calling 702-739-FANS.
McCollum became the second Patriot League player ever selected in the NBA Draft, joining Colgate’s Adonal Foyle. Foyle was the eighth overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft. Lehigh Coach Brett Reed said that it was an important day for Lehigh Basketball and the Patriot League as a whole.
A journalism alumnus who has written pieces for The Sporting News, Sports Illustrated and NBA.com, McCollum finished his Lehigh career as the Patriot League’s all-time leading scorer. He is second in Lehigh history, behind Daren Queenan ’88.
McCollum’s impressive junior season culminated in Lehigh’s historic win over Duke in the NCAA tournament. He entered the draft last year, but eventually decided to return to South Mountain for his senior season. In “Poked, Prodded … Then Picked,” an editorial that appeared in the June 24 issue of Sports Illustrated, McCollum wrote about how the time he spent at Lehigh prepared him for the life of a professional athlete.
“A lot of guys leave college early, but I wouldn’t have been ready for this process two years ago,” wrote McCollum. “That extra maturity helped me.”
McCollum began his senior season as the nation’s leading scorer through 11 games. However, on January 5 in a game at Virginia Commonwealth, McCollum broke the fifth metatarsal in his right foot. The injury ended his season, but he continued to lead his team in other ways. Despite losing McCollum on the court, the Mountain Hawks posted their third 20-win season in four years.
Fully cleared to practice on April 29, McCollum has spent the past few months training in Long Island, N.Y., and traveling around the country to demonstrate his basketball abilities. With the draft behind him, McCollum has set his sights on proving himself on the professional level and having a successful career.
“It’s not where you go, it’s what you do when you get there,” said McCollum at Wednesday’s NBA Draft press conference. “You can be the 1st pick in the draft and be a bust, or you can be the last pick and be successful. I'm focused on what I do when I get there.”
Photos by Justin Lafleur
Editor’s note: If you missed the 2013 NBA Draft, you can watch a replay on WatchESPN.com.