Don’t feel bad if McCall’s name is unfamilar. He literally came out of nowhere.
“I really don’t know how this all happened,” he said. “I never played AAU ball. Never had anyone working me out. I did do a lot of things on my own, trying to improve my game, and my dad [Gerald McCall] was helping me as best as he could, though he doesn’t know everything about teaching basketball.”
McCall committed to HF in early February, but the word kept spreading. In time, he also visited D-IIs Shaw and Millersville in addition to Niagara. The Purple Eagles, coached by Philly native Joe Mihalich, became involved about 2 weeks ago.
“When I said yes to Holy Family, I wasn’t hearing from anybody else,” McCall said. “They wanted me to give them an answer by a certain date and my mom [Tangy Knotts] didn’t want me to miss out on a free college education.
“Other schools started contacting me after the Donofrio Classic and I let Holy Family know I wanted to open things back up. I went up to Niagara last Monday and I saw it as a perfect situation. Everyone was very welcoming.”
Niagara’s roster includes senior-to-be Andre “Scooter” Gillette (Ss. Neumann-Goretti) and rising sophs Juan’ya Green (Archbishop Carroll) and Ameen Tanksley (Imhotep Charter). McCall leaned heavily on the latter for insight.
“Ameen said the coaches are like your father or friend, that they really want to see you do great,” said McCall, who lives on the 3800 block of North Gratz Street, not far from 18th and Erie. “He also said they’re not too strict, that nothing’s set in stone. You have to follow the main guidelines, of course, but you also get to do your own thing. I like that.
“I really have to thank my mom. My great aunt [Omega Gibson] just passed from lung cancer and the whole thing happened in like 2 weeks. It was a very stressful time. With all that going on, and with [schools] constantly calling, it was hard for my mom to focus on my college plans. But she did. She was great.”
Contact Ted Silary at email@example.com