Wednesday, December 7, 2016

From Indian Hills to the BIG EAST: McCallum and Holt thriving for their respective schools

                                Photo Credit: Geno Green

For DePaul's Tre'Darius McCallum and Providence's Emmitt Holt, their paths in the 2014-15 season were bumpy.

McCallum played for Sheridan (Wyo.) College that year, but left halfway through and ended up at Indian Hills (Iowa) Community College. On the other end, Emmitt Holt looked to be a major element at Indiana University, but would be dismissed in Aug. 2015 after a citation for illegal possession of alcohol.

Holt ended up with McCallum at Indian Hills for the 2015-16 season and averaged 11.6 points per game each, on the way to a 27-5 record and a trip to the NJCAA national tournament.

A month later, Holt's rebirth came full circle by signing a letter of intent to play at Providence, while McCallum went to DePaul—both BIG EAST schools. Both have thrived in various roles in the first month of the regular season. 

Adjusting from junior college to Division I basketball can present its own challenges and McCallum is no different.

"The biggest thing for me has been the change of speed," McCallum said. "Also, players in JUCO were playing for scholarships, but at [DePaul], everyone is playing to win."

Holt has transitioned with ease into one of the key weapons on offense for the Friars with double figures in points in six of eight games played this season.

On the flip side, McCallum's impact has been made in the paint with a team-high 7.3 rebounds per game in seven starts. 

Despite playing in different regions, McCallum keeps in contact with Holt on a moderate basis.

"I talk to [Emmitt] every week and we will always have that friendly competition and is like a brother to me," McCallum said. "Every time we talk, there is a little beef, but it is cool."

McCallum attributes his early success at DePaul to coach Dave Leitao for keeping him even-keeled.

"[Coach Leitao] has taught me to play my game and stay focused," McCallum said. "He told me to let the game come to me and don't get hot headed about little things and do me."

Leitao has taken notice of McCallum's presence on the floor and knows more can be mustered out of the junior.

"[Tre'Darius] is really active and has a much higher ceiling for his game, than where he is at," Leitao said. "He runs the floor, is active and being around the basketball a lot is something he's good at without having to call a play for him. As he continues to get better, his offense will improve too."

The BIG EAST conference slate should be one to watch this season, especially with the potential McCallum and Holt have shown in the first month.

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Follow Geno Green on Twitter @TheGenoGreen.