Basketball

This Grand Strand basketball player's dreams nearly derailed, now he's set to go pro

Tre'Darius McCallum, right, averaged 9.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in two seasons at DePaul.
Tre'Darius McCallum, right, averaged 9.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in two seasons at DePaul. TNS

Tre'Darius McCallum's winding journey to Division I college basketball included several stops in different parts of the United States.

Now, his pro career is taking him even farther.

The St. James High School graduate and two-year starter at DePaul University has signed a contract to play professionally in Switzerland for the 2018-19 season. McCallum will play for the Pully Lausanne Foxes, who are part of the Swiss Basketball League, the highest hoops tier in the country.

McCallum said the prospects of playing professionally entered his mind when he was playing in junior college before he wound up a Blue Demon. Then, after two years at DePaul, the dream quickly became a reality following the Blue Demons' opening-round exit in the Big East tournament in March.

"I can’t describe it. It’s exciting. Reality check," said McCallum, who was dismissed from the Sharks' team in high school and played at two JUCOs before going Division I. "It hit me when our season ended in New York and agents were blowing me up, coming to visit me at the hotel. I was like 'man, it’s about to happen.'"

McCallum said he plans to play professionally for a long time or however long his body allows. While he'd like to get a shot in the NBA down the road, McCallum said he's just happy to continue playing the game he loves.

"A lot of people are doing this to chase money. That’s not me," he said. "I’m really trying to have a career."

McCallum said his agent received feedback from NBA personnel regarding his prospects and the player now has an idea of what he needs to work on. The biggest recommendation was a position change from forward to guard.

"A lot of stuff I heard was really just working on my shot a little bit better," McCallum said. "They know I can shoot, but just being a playmaker, having the ball in my hands a lot.

"There's no more post for me. It's all guard stuff right now."

McCallum leaves for Switzerland on Aug. 20 and will be outside of the U.S. for the first time for a season that lasts about eight months.

McCallum has received advice from other prominent basketball minds from the area, including NBA veteran and Myrtle Beach High grad Ramon Sessions, longtime overseas player and Seahawks alumnus Trello Galloway, North Myrtle Beach High coach and former Coastal Carolina player Alvin Green, former Loris coach and former CCU player Derrick Robinson, and his sister, former Myrtle Beach High and South Carolina standout Khadijah Sessions, who played professionally in Finland in recent years.

"She just told me to be humble, just keep my mindset right. I’m going out there to make a living and for the love, not just going out there to worry about where I’m at or what the scenery is like. I'm just really going there playing the game. She helped me out a lot," said McCallum, adding that Ramon Sessions advised him to "just grind, just stay on it."

McCallum said he'd like to follow Ramon Sessions as the second area player in the NBA one day. However, he understands he's going to need to take baby steps for now.

"Hopefully after this I can bump up to the EuroLeague or get a tryout in the NBA and just work from there and just develop - just become a better person on and off the court. That’s my biggest thing right now," said McCallum, who averaged 10 points and 5.7 rebounds in his senior season at DePaul.

McCallum said he's been Googling Switzerland, everything from the place he'll be living to the competition he'll be playing against.

"I’m just anxious to get out there and get started and start playing," he said. "All I want to do is just play and not have to worry about school or nothing else - just straight basketball."

Reflecting on his years at DePaul, McCallum talked joyfully about the fun he had and the contacts he made. Overall, McCallum spoke proudly of his journey, which included overcoming a dismissal from his high school squad, two JUCO stops (Sheridan College in Wyoming and Indian Hills Community College in Iowa) and a pair of challenging seasons in the Big East.

Now, he's ready for the next challenge.

"Bouncing around from school to school it kind of wears you down, but at the same time it makes you stronger. I didn’t really give up," McCallum said. "There's going to be hard times, but you've got to fight through it."

David Wetzel: @MYBSports, 843-626-0295

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