By Jacob Nofziger for Goshen Commons
Errick McCollum II holds the single season and career scoring records in basketball at Goshen College. In the spring of his senior year in 2010, as a 6’1” guard, he executed a soaring dunk that became an ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 play.
But unlike the majority of Goshen College students, McCollum never traveled abroad en route to earning his undergraduate degree. His credentials as a global citizen came later, courtesy of his ability to speak with the basketball in any language.
This year, McCollum, who is 25, is playing for Apollon Patra, a team in the Greek Basketball League.The league is ranked as one of the top three leagues in Europe. McCollum had intended to play professional ball in Turkey this year, but after a preseason tournament with the Best Balikesir Basketball Club, he received an offer to play in Greece.
Last season he played professionally in Israel, where he topped the league in scoring, averaging 24.3 points per game and scoring a high of 40 points in one game.
McCollum said that his parents predicted that they would have two professional athletes in their family. Friends used to laugh at the claim, he said, but they no longer do.
McCollum’s younger brother, C.J., who plays for Lehigh University, was a two-time Patriot League player of the year and the nation’s fifth-leading scorer as a junior last season. C.J. McCollum led Lehigh, a No. 15 seed in the N.C.A.A. tournament, in knocking off Duke, the No. 2 seed, last March.
“My parents always knew we had the ability and talent, and they put us in the position to gain every opportunity we could get,” Errick McCollum said.
McCollum excelled in high school ball in Canton, Ohio, but his size turned away many Division I schools. Goshen College didn’t hesitate, and McCollum took a road less traveled in his journey to the pros.
At Goshen College, he excelled, as a senior becoming the first Maple Leaf to be named conference player of the year. He averaged 25.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3 assists per contest and was named a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) First Team All American.
Even so, after graduating, McCollum, who earned a business degree, was uncertain about his future. He turned down several job offers and signed with an agent. “My agent said he saw the Top 10 play … [but] it takes a lot of things to go your way,” he said.
After signing his first professional contract, McCollum packed up his bags and flew to Israel—his first trip abroad.
In two years of professional play McCollum has now visited 10 countries and feels comfortable in transitioning to Greece this year.
“I don’t think you can go overseas and do this if you can’t adjust and meet new people,” said McCollum. He attributed his easy adjustment in Israel to the experience he had in moving from his home in the inner-city in Canton to “little Goshen College.”
In college the basketball team did everything together, he said, as a tight-knit family. In the professional league, some of the players are 10 years older, with families of their own to go home to after the game.
“It was a big adjustment from Goshen College,” said McCollum, “where everybody is friendly and all the doors are unlocked. It’s a different atmosphere.”
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