Remember when you would watch the Olympics and think anything was possible because 16 years old was so far away that surely, if you applied yourself, you could become the best in the world at something by then too? Now I marvel at the abilities of these cherub-cheeked athletes that have mastered their craft without so much as a bag beneath the eye to show for their years of labor. I was there once, but I spent my youth chasing girls, not racing them.
I can’t really say that I’m disappointed in myself by any stretch. Sure, I can outrun my grandparents, out-throw small children, and jump higher than present day Woody Harrelson (I hope), but I’m far from a world class athlete. I’m not even that old, actually. I’ve just reached the point where NBA players that enter the league fresh out of college are younger than myself and, if you’re in the same boat, you know that’s a weird feeling. Athletes get younger every year.
Blazers incoming combo-guard, CJ McCollum, turned 22 years old today. He has one full year of legal alcohol consumption under his belt and he’s ready to make $2.3 million playing among the best ballers in the world this season. For those counting at home, that’s six figures for every year he’s walked the Earth (crawled, even). And you know what? He’s earned it. CJ McCollum has already displayed a champion’s work ethic and I’m thrilled to have him in Portland.
So let’s revel in a few of his accomplishments thus far:
- (2007) Set the GlenOak High School scoring record with 54 points.
- (2009) Became GlenOak High School’s all time leading scorer with 1,405 career points.
- (2009) Named Gatorade Ohio Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
- (2010) Became first freshman in Patriot League history to be named Conference Player of the Year.
- (2010) Named an All-American Honorable Mention by the Associated Press.
- (2010) Elected first team All-Patriot League.
- (2011) Elected first team All-Patriot League.
- (2012) Became Patriot League all-time leading scorer (2,361 points career total)
- (2012) Elected first team All-Patriot League.
- (2013) Selected 10th overall in the NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers.
Who knows what he’ll have accomplished by 23? In NBA.com’s annual rookie survey, CJ McCollum tied with Victor Oladipo for most likely to win Rookie of the Year this coming season. The survey isn’t just one man’s personal opinions; the voting is done by this year’s rookie class. McCollum’s peers think he is the most likely to succeed and, although I think Portland’s clogged guard rotation is not ideal, McCollum displays the Lillard-esque attitude to make it happen.
Regardless of where he’s been and where he’s going, I wish him a very happy birthday. At 22 years old, the world is his oyster. If you would like to wish him a happy birthday as well, you can do so on twitter @CJMcCollum.