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"Well, he's almost 5'9"," says Hahn with a smile.
Though he's easily the Cardinals' best ball handler, McCallum plays the off guard position because he's not a great penetrator and needs some help off picks to shoot his jumper, which he can get down from as far out as 25 feet. His accuracy on the jumper—he's a career 50% shooter—has been the key to his point production. But Ball State Coach Al Brown, like Yoder before him, has very few set plays, and consequently McCallum averages only about 14 shots per game; McLaughlin, also an excellent shooter, gets about 17, a more normal total for a scorer.
McCallum falls back on his jumper, so that few of his shots are blocked, and despite a penchant for posting up—which is hopeless because of his size—he doesn't force shots inside when he gets caught amid the big men. He also capitalizes on what he calls the "sneak-in factor." Early in the second half against Northern Illinois, McCallum made a left-handed tip-in when nobody boxed him out; with 3:06 left, he came up with a crucial offensive rebound and drew a foul. Yes, he can jam, and has proved it on a dozen or so occasions in games.
Though his quick hands had helped him collect 167 career steals through last week, which ties the Ball State record, he's a liability in a man-to-man situation because of his size. "Without a doubt, defense will be a problem for Ray if he wants to make it in the pros," says Moore, who was cut by the Kansas City Kings after being drafted in the ninth round last year. "He's not really noted for his defense anyway, and he's played a lot of zone in college. At Nebraska we played all man-to-man, so I learned how to play defense, and it was still tough."
Last week McCallum sipped a glass of Kool-Aid in his apartment and reflected on his NBA chances, saying, "I just hope the right people see me. My whole life, it's been 'You can't play at this level, you can't play at that level.' I want one more chance to play at the next level."
McCallum is amazed at the adulation he gets around Muncie. Unassuming by nature, he took an apartment alone this year to get away from some of the attention. "I can see I'm a role model for a lot of kids," he says. "Not everybody out there is over 6 feet tall. Maybe they see me and say, 'If Ray can do it, so can I.' But all the attention still knocks me out sometimes."
Thirty minutes later McCallum is recognized the instant he enters a restaurant. He signs autographs as his girl friend, Wendy Moore, exchanges pleasantries with a man and his son.
"Thanks," says the man. "You made our day."
A little theme music, please.