McCallum’s jersey could be next to be raised

The Detroit Titans media guide lists point guard Ray McCallum as a communications major. That means, over the next four years, he'll take a wide variety of classes that will develop his skills in print, video and audio media. He'll have to pay attention in his classes to do well.

(I should know; I'll be graduating with a degree in that very major next year.)

But his attention Friday night at Calihan Hall might be more important than any course he takes. He'll receive a lesson on the hardwood that could directly impact his legacy.

All-time leading scorer Rashad Phillips will have his jersey retired in a ceremony before the men's basketball season-opener.

McCallum should take notes, because the same thing could be happening to him about 10 years from now. He has the opportunity to take the Titans as far as Phillips took UDM in the late 1990s.

A quick glance at his high school resume proves he isn't lacking in talent.

Aside from playing the same position and wearing the same number, Phillips and McCallum have other similarities.

Although many regard Phillips as the best Titan guard ever, he played alongside other greats in Jermaine Jackson, Desmond Ferguson and Willie Green.

All three of those players made it to the NBA. Phillips admitted they helped him become the type of player he was.

McCallum has talent around him as well. Chase Simon and Jason Calliste could turn out to be two of the sweetest-shooting Titans in quite some time, and Eli Holman is already being mentioned in the same category as legend Terry Tyler.

Phillips had a lot to prove as a player. As a short guard-he stands only 5-foot-10 today-people doubted he could be effective in a sport that all but requires height.

It's his height that kept him from being highly recruited out of Ferndale High School and was probably a big factor in why he didn't make it in the NBA.

While McCallum doesn't quite share Phillips's underdog role, he still has a lot to prove.

He's basically being asked to carry a program to glory on his freshman shoulders, and there are doubters.

Hopefully, that will translate into the kind of fire Phillips played with.

Phillips thinks it could.

"My expectation for him is to be a productive player," he said. "He did that in high school and he'll do it in college."

If McCallum is anywhere near as productive as Phillips, we should cherish every game he plays in these next four years.

Because one day, there could be another number-three banner being raised to the top of Calihan Hall.

Michael Martinez is co-managing editor of The Varsity News. Follow him on Twitter @VNSportsEditor for extra information and analysis.