Ray McCallum Jr. spent two years in Norman while his father, Ray Sr., served as an assistant for Oklahoma basketball coach Kelvin Sampson from 2004 to 2006.
Ray Jr. is projected as a second-round pick in Thursday night's NBA Draft.
Q: Do you remember wearing Kevin Bookout's No. 34 jersey as a kid when you lived in Norman?
McCallum: I had more than just the jersey. I wore everything — the jersey, the shorts, everything.
That was the only jersey that really sold back then. He was ‘The man' back in the day.
Why did the pressure of being a coach's son never get to you?
I was around good teams and good players so much. I just saw how they carried themselves and how they approached the game. I just wanted to be like those guys, so I learned from the players and tried to become like them.
Bookout said even as a seventh grader, you worked hard on your game.
I want to say I was working out with some of the (OU) players sometimes. I would go to the weight room for a little bit and then go on the court. I remember I always wanted to be able to dunk. I would do all these leg exercises and all these leg lifts. I would work out with (strength and conditioning coach) Darby Rich almost every day. (Graduate assistant) Ryan McDermott and I used to play one-on-one. Me and him, we used to go at it. I really think they made me better. That was a lot of fun back there.”
Did you get your first dunk there?
I had my first dunk the summer after eighth grade was over. In Norman, there's a gym that used to be like an airplane hanger (North Base Optimist Gym). They have some league there and some of my friends in middle school got me to play in this league, kind of like a spring league, and I got my first dunk. It was off an alley-oop. I'll never forget it.
How was your experience with the Thunder at your workout session?
When I was living in Norman, the hurricane (Katrina) hit New Orleans and I was there to catch some of the Hornets' games (at the Ford Center). All the success the Thunder has had the last few years and how they've grown as a team, how the whole city is behind them, it was fun to get back there and be in that atmosphere and see the practice facility they have. It was a great visit.
You've become a big fan of Russell Westbrook. Why is that?
The thing that stands out the most is his athletic ability. That's something I try to take pride in is being an athletic guard. I try to watch him as much as I can and try to take bits and pieces of his game and try to add it to mine. He's grown so much as a player.
Did you meet Russ while you were in town?
No, the only one who was there was (shooting guard) Jeremy Lamb.
Your thoughts on Thursday's draft?
This is something I've been waiting for my whole life. To know that this thing is so close, I'm just real anxious to see where I land and start the next step in my life.
Are you picky about where you go?
Honestly, I'll go anywhere. I just want an opportunity to play in the NBA.
You were a combo guard at Detroit, a scoring point guard. Do you see yourself having that same role in the NBA?
I think I'll be a point guard who has a lot of abilities. I could see being asked to run my team and get all my teammates involved, because that's what point guard does. A lot of successful point guards have been able to score the ball as well. Playing for dad the last three years has helped me grow in those areas.
Is playing in the Horizon League a fair criticism, that perhaps you haven't played against stiff enough competition?
Honestly, I have a lot of respect for the Horizon League. I think it's a tougher conference than people realize. Unless you really watch us play a conference game, you really have to grind it out to win. At this point, they (NBA scouts) know players. If a kid can play, then a kid can play.