Errick McCollum(Pinar Karsiyaka) Made The Best Decision In His Life Valuing Happiness And Staying Overseas Instead Of The NBA And Sparse Minutes

There are guys that I have always wanted to interview that aren’t necessarily in the NBA that could have gone and then again there are guys I really really want to interview that should of played there. You know those really high level players balling in the Euroleague. One of those guys has always been Errick McCollum. Ok so he isn’t currently battling in the Euroleague, but he has been there in the past and has belonged to the best for many many years. I can’t exactly remember when I had my first encounter with him, but it was some years ago when I really wanted to interview him. I called him up in his hotel and he was really friendly, but it didn’t work out on account of team policy. But I recently saw him again in Bonn, Germany when he played a Basketball Champions league game and it finally worked out. McCollum is one of those incredible players that has achieved just about everything overseas, but surprisingly never played in the NBA. Besides being the brother of NBA star CJ McCollum of the New Orleanes Pelicans, he is a flat out walking bucket, but can also if needed give you 12 dimes on any night. His vita is a read that only few guys overseas can match in the last decade. Since turning professional in 2011, he has played in more than 500 games and showed consistency his whole career and been a high level scorer in countries like like Israel, Greece, China, Turkey, and Russia. Oh did I forget to mention this guy played at a NAIA school. Turning professional from a NAIA school is about as seldom as NBA star Luka Doncic having a very low scoring game. It just doesn’t happen often and when it does, those guys rarely even reach the first division in a country. Not only did McCollum reach first divisions, but took apart the competition everywhere he has played. He led the Eurocup in scoring twice, was a solid scorer in the Euroleague and once averaged 39,0ppg in a season in China. And he also won titles in Turkey and the Eurocup. With a career like that and having that well known McCollum name, why the heck didn’t this guy ever get a NBA chance? Oh he could of, but he didn’t need it. He played NBA Summer League in 2014 and knew pretty quickly the NBA would not be for him. ‘I hated it, was a poor experience. Nothing worst then being good enough to play, showing it in practice everyday and then having to watch because draft picks and rostered guys are in your positions. So that was my first and last experience, because in summer league the best don’t always get an opportunity. I told teams no to summer league every year after that experience’, remembered Errick McCollum. He observed from Europe what was happening in the NBA and also knew from his brother how the NBA worked. Sometimes you just trust your gut feeling and how you can be most happy. ‘I had 2 offers at different times to go to NBA over the years. But the role, was not what I desired. I had no interest to go to the NBA and be a 3rd PG and to watch the games, I wanted to play. And the offers I had didn’t provide that opportunity. But I respect the teams because they were honest and didn’t lie to me. They told me minutes would be inconsistent as a 3rd PG and sometimes you will not play and others low minutes. So at this time for me it was hard because I worked so hard to build name and resume in Europe and now To just leave Europe, make way less money because NBA contract was a minimum deal, and to play bench role was not for me. I valued happiness and I knew I wouldn’t be happy in this situation so I stayed overseas. Best decision I ever made’, warned Errick McCollum (188-G-1988, college: Goshen).

Errick McCollum who has Romeo Travis, Jamar Smith, Raymar Morgan, Caleb Green, Charles Gaines, and Muhaymin Mustafa as his six best teammates of all-time was born on January 22, 1988 in Canton Ohio. He began his basketball career at Glen Oak High School where he played from 2002-2006 where he was teammates with future NBA player Kostas Koufas. Later his brother CJ joined the team in 2006. He then had an illustrious career at NAIA school Goshen College from 2006-2010 where he was named NAIA All-American every season. He left the school as it’s all-time leading scorer with 2,789 points and was named First team NAIA All-American in his last year. Even if the basketball wasn’t as competitive as at a NCAA school, it was the school experience in all area’s that really shaped him to become the player he is today and man. ‘Goshen taught me how to navigate in different spaces, with different people and different cultures. The school had students from all over the world and at the time I didn’t know it but it helped open up my mind and prepare me for my future basketball career overseas’, stated Errick Mccollum. Despite playing in the NAIA, he didn’t have any problems finding a job right out of school as he played in Israel for Elitzur Netanya (Israel-Premier League). It was the competitive first division where he played EuroChallenge: averaging 4.2ppg, 1.3rpg; and in the Israeli League averaged 2.9ppg. He obviously had growing pains in his rookie season, but that is one that many Americans suffer when going into the wide world overseas. But he showed already in his fourth game against Euroleague power house Maccabi Tel Aviv that he had game scoring 9 points in 10 minutes against guys like Jeremy Pargo and Baby Shaq. He definitely won’t forget his rookie season. Sometimes an American is totally alone being the lone American, but he was fortunate to have teammates like Romeo Travis, Adrian Banks and Joe Smith who showed him the ropes early on how to survive in the shark tank. ‘First time out of the country is always tough, dealing with a new culture, place, and being on your own. It was tough but luckily I had great vets to get me through. Romeo Travis was instrumental in helping me adjust to Europe and showing me the ropes. He is like a big brother to me’, remembered Errick Mccollum. In his second season he took a step back to the second division and it paid off. This is a step that not many players risk, but some get rewarded as Kameron Taylor showed in 2017 going back to the third division in Germany and 4 years later was a Euroleague player for Maccabi Tel Aviv. McCollum played his second season with Hapoel Kfar Saba/Kohav Yair (Israel-National League) leading the league in scoring 24.3ppg, 7.9rpg, 2.9apg, 2.2spg, FGP: 58.9%, 3PT: 30.4%, FT: 80.1%. He scored in double figures in each game including having 20 points or more in 20 games including 40 points and 15 assists against Lev Hasharon. He showed this season that he is the real deal and had that scoring and playmaking down. ‘I was always good enough to play in first league and when given the opportunity I showed my class and ability. The problem was opportunities were limited for me so the next year I went to a place I could show myself and my ability and I was able to do that in my season playing in 2nd league Israel. It was great for my mental and confidence’, commented Errick McCollum.

The flashy guard who is honest and remembers beating his brother CJ at at 1-1awhen they were younger, because he was 3,5 years older, but now admits that his brother wins more duels was able to play his next 2 seasons in Greece and witness his career really take off. In 2012-2013 he joined AS Apollon Patras (Greece-A1) and was the leagues fourth best scorer averaging 15.1ppg, 2.8rpg, 2.4apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 45.7%, 3PT: 30.8%, FT: 76.5%. That season he scored in double figures in 22 of 28 games including 31 points against KAOD and held his own against Euroleague top teams Panathinaikos scoring 22 and 16 points and against Olympiakos had 19 and 15 points. He took another step in his game the next season heightening it with Panionios ON Telecoms Athens (Greece-A1) being the top scorer in the Eurocup averaging 20.2ppg, 3.2rpg, 3.1apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 49.7%, 3PT: 30.9%, FT: 81.3%; and led the Greek league in scoring with 17.7ppg, 2.8rpg, 2.6apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 41.9%, 3PT: 39.3%, FT: 80.8%. He scored in double figures in 31 of 35 games in the Greek league including 27 points against Panathinaikos and 25 points against Olympiakos and in the Eurocup scored in double figures in all 16 games including 31 points against N.Novgorod and 28 points against ACB team Bilbao. ‘Those seasons my confidence, and my ability to run a team grew. I always thought highly of myself as a player but not the rest of Europe was starting to see me in that light. These 2 seasons spring boarded my career’, warned Errick McCollum. Back in those days, the Greek league were filled with spectacular and top players like Dimitris Diamantidis and Vassilis Spanoulis that he will be able to tell his grandchildren about. ‘They are both legends and great players. I played against them over the years, many battles. I just like how they approached the game and how they always showed up in the clutch moments over their careers. That stood out to me’, expressed Errick Mccollum.

After an incredible season like that he probably could of moved up another level, but the guard who lists ex NBA player Dequan Cook who he faced in high school as the toughest player he ever faced still had to wait for his Euroleague debut. He took on a new challenge in China where Americans began going to where the money wasn’t just good, but great and averaging just 25 points was only average. He played twice in China the first time with the Zhejiang Golden Bulls (China-CBA) averaging an absurb 39.6ppg, 7.4rpg, 5.5apg, 2.1spg, FGP: 50.1%, 3PT: 34.0%, FT: 84.9% and the second time with the Beikong Fly Dragons (China-CBA) keep up the craziness averaging 37.5ppg, 6.4rpg, 3.7apg, 2.3spg, FGP: 52.0%, 3PT: 38.2%, FT: 82.4%. He played 74 games in total and scored 30 points or more 56 times, 40 points or more 33 times, 50 points or more 10 times and had 60 points or more 4 times. But the league has definitely changed from back when he last played in 2016. ‘The CBA is different now. Contract stipulations, salary caps, guarantees, the amount of foreigners, how often they can be on court, practice players etc have weakened the league. I feel like now the league is watered down and not nearly as strong but when I played the league was stronger in foreign talent. It was enjoyable because every night you knew you were lining up across from a dog! The foreigners were extremely elite offensively and gifted players. The domestic players in China were not near the talent level of the Europeans in the upper leagues of Europe. That’s what separates the CBA from say the Euroleague, or champions league or Eurocup. The amount of foreigners teams can play with on court and the skill level of the domestic players. Don’t get me wrong there are still some top notch elite foreigners in China like Marshon Brooks, Kyle Fogg, Jamal Franklin, and several more (these guys are elite and have done it for many years) but there are definitely many without the experience or resumes that slide through the cracks and struggle’, stressed Errick McCollum. He also has the ultimate story for any occasion as he once out did Kobe scoring 82 points in a game in China against Guangdong ST outdoing his 81 points. ‘ It was a crazy game, I got extremely hot and found a rhythm early. It was one of those zones where I didn’t feel fatigue until immediately after the game. I didn’t really hear the crowd much (even though they were loud.) Everything was just white noise because I was so locked in and focused. Just a surreal game, something I never experienced before. And yeah I outscored Kobe by 1 it’s crazy to think, but his was against much better competition’, smiled Errick McCollum.

The ex Euroleague top scorer who lists NBA legends is Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and Magic Johnson on his personal NBA Mount Rushmore then went to Turley to battle for Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul (Turkey-BSL) averaging 15.0ppg, 3.4rpg, 3.4apg, FGP: 46.1%, 3PT: 31.1%, FT: 82.1% in the Turkish league and averaged 18.1ppg, 4.4rpg, 3.6apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 49.7%, 3PT: 35.1%, FT: 86.5% in the Eurocup. He scored in double figures in 27 of 34 BSL games including 31 points against Turk Telekom and in the Eurocup scored in double figures in 17 of 20 games including 32 points and 30 points against Neptunas. He led the team with 16 points in the Eurocup win against Strasburg. ‘That Galatasaray team was one of the best teams I ever played on. From the talent, depth, chemistry. Everything just fit together there and players all complemented each other well on the court with their styles. I loved it there and have a soft spot in my heart for those fans there till this day. An incredible experience. And Blake Schilb is one of most talented players I ever played with. He can do everything on the court. Pass, shoot, post, dribble and he’s tall 6’6. He was a Swiss Army knife, one of those players that could literally do everything well offensively on the court’, remembered Errick McCollum. In his second season he came near the end of the season to Turkey averaging 13.8ppg, 3.1rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 47.1%, 3PT: 32.3%, FT: 71.2% after having played in China for the second tour of duty. He finally reached the Euroleague in the 2017-2018 season with Anadolu Efes Istanbul (Turkey-BSL) averaging 17.2ppg, 2.7rpg, 3.4apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 51.7%, 3PT: 34.8%, FT: 78.9%;in the BSL and in the Euroleague averaged 14.6ppg, 2.4rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 44.8%, 3PT: 40.0%, FT: 77.5%. In the BSL he scored in double figures in 27 games including a 41 point explosion against Usak and 34 points against Tofas. He played for the great coach Ataman where he saw early on that he was a special coach. ‘I’ve had some success and titles under Ataman. What makes him win I believe is that he and his staff are good at selecting players that fit well together and fit his system. They do a good job with this and second is that he gives freedom to his main players to make decisions on the court and to play their game. He gives trust but with this trust comes big responsibility for those players’, said Errick McCollum. In the Euroleague he scored in double figures in 19 of 29 games including 31 points against Maccabi Tel Aviv. In his first Euroleague game, he battled against 17 year old big talent Luka Doncic and with him was the best player on the floor as they scored 26 and 27 points. He didn’t have to rub his eyes after countless fascinating plays from Luka, because his was extraordinary. ‘I knew he was special when my team matched up against him. Often times guys get a lot of hype but he backed it up. He had size, skill, smarts, and a great basketball feel all at just 18 years old. It was incredible to witness. He was too skilled for the taller players to stay in front of him defensively and too strong and tall for the shorter players to guard him’, remembered Errick McCollum.

The prolific scorer who saw the sequel to the classic Coming To America and likes the original most then played the next 4 years in Russia for 3 different teams. He continued to play at the highest level while also earning very good money for his stellar play. He played with Unics Kazan from 2018-2010 and played for the first time in a new league called the VTB and didn’t disappoint there either averaging 14.1ppg, 2.2rpg, 2.6apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 46.8%, 3PT: 41.7%, FT: 80.6%; in his first season and upped his game in his second season being the league’s third top scorer averaging 19.9pp), 2.9rpg, 3.6apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 54.2%, 3PT: 34.0%, FT: 78.4%. He scored in double figures in 27 of 49 VTB games including 33 points against Tsmoki-Minsk and Kalev/Cramo and 30 points against top Euroleague club CSKA Moscow. In the Eurocup he averaged 13.2ppg, 2.8rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 49.1%, 3PT: 35.3%, FT: 83.5% in his first season and 17.1ppg, 3.1rpg, 3.9apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 49.0%, 3PT: 36.0%, FT: 83.8% in his second season where he was the leagues third best scorer. He scored in double figures in 27 of 36 games including 32 points against his future team Lok Kuban and 32 points against Badalona. In Kazan he was teammates with one of my favorite top 5 guards of all-time that I have covered with ex Seton Hall (NCAA) guard Jordan Theodore. The New Jersey native like McCollum is one of many guys who is good enough to play in the NBA. ‘Jordan is my guy! I loved playing with him. He’s tough, fast, and explosive and at his small stature he’s really good at getting in the paint and finishing or finding guys open. He’s excellent In pick and roll and a really good passer. He helped our offense and pushed the tempo and is solid defender. The NBA is tricky, there are only 450 spots but there are double maybe even triple that of talented players out there. Sometimes it’s about fit, or team need, or politics. You never really know but he’s had a great career regardless and will help any team he goes to’, warned Errick McCollum.

He remained in Russia and next played with BC Khimki Moscow Region (Russia-VTB United League) and again showed consistent scoring in the VTB averaging 14.1ppg, 1.9rpg, 2.1apg, FGP: 49.6%, 3PT: 31.3%, FT: 83.0%;and in the Euroleague averaged 11.6ppg, 2.4rpg, 2.3apg, FGP: 44.0%, 3PT: 34.4%, FT: 84.8%. In the VTB he scored in double figures in 16 of 20 games including 31 points against Enisey and in the Euroleague scored in double figures in 16 of 28 games including 29 points against Crvena Zvezda. With Khimki, he wasn’t the only high class scorer, but also shared the floor with ex NBA player Alexi Sheved ‘It was a different experience for me, that season I had to be even more efficient and ultra aggressive because minutes were limited and there were very few possessions for me. I think I was able to do that, be productive, and still impact games. In an environment like that, this is not easy’, expressed Errick McCollum. Last season he remained in Russia again and balled with Lokomotiv Kuban (Russia-VTB United League) remaining a top player in the VTB averaging 18.2ppg, 2.2rpg, 4.5apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 52.5%, 3PT: 35.6%, FT: 87.4% and in the Eurocup led the league in scoring averaging 22.3ppg, 3.2rpg, 4.3apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 48.2%, 3PT: 41.4%, FT: 88.1%. In the VTB he scored in double figures in 24 of 30 games including 38 points against Tsmoki-Minsk, 34 points against CSKA Moscow and 32 points against Lok Kuban..In the Eurocup he scored in double figures in each game including 33 points against Partizan NiS and 30 points against ACB team Andorra. This can easily have been his best season as a professional. To be able to lead a high level competition like the Eurocup in scoring at age 34 is phenomenal.’ I was pleased with my season, I spent a lot of time preparing not just my game and skill set but my body and mind. I pride myself on being a professional and to be able to have a dominant season like that was a tribute to my hard work. That season was special because as you get older people always wonder when you will slow down or show your age. But for me I think I sped up and showed my youth. Was a good balance in creating and scoring and I was extremely efficient and most importantly we were winning! And the best part I think I brought that people didn’t see, was the leadership and ability to help my teammates. Many are on different teams this season at high level and thriving. I think I was a good Vet to them and helped by setting a good example’, remembered Errick McCollum.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber meeting Errick McCollum in Bonn Germany in 2022 before a BCL game

Let’s fast forward to 2022 as Errick McCollum who had had interest from German teams in the past, but was never close to signing is in his 13th season with Pinar Karsiyaka SK Izmir (Turkey-BSL). He has always had great seasons, but his best experience winning has been in Turkey. ‘Turkey is my favorite country for sure, having won 2 titles while playing in this country definitely makes it even more memorable. But the truth is the country is beautiful, the people are great, food and culture here is excellent. It’s very easy for someone to adapt when all those things align and you feel accepted. That’s what Turkey is for me, almost like a 2nd home’, smiled Erick Mccollum. I can imagine he will play for a while and stop when his body strikes, because it doesn’t matter where he plays, he just wants to play and have success no matter where it is. ‘For me basketball is basketball, my approach and mindset never changes. Rather here or another team or another country. I come to win, I put the work in, and make my impact felt on the court. Nothing changed for me on that end’, stressed Errick McCollum. . He is having another incredible season as age continues not to show as in the Turkish BSL he isleading the league in scoring averaging 19,6ppg, 3,0rpg, 4,5apg and 1,2spg  and in the Basketball Champions League averaged 18,8ppg, 3,5rpg and 6,6apg. His team is in third place and battling for the title An ability that surely has helped his game and scoring in the past decade has been his pure ability of making tough off balance shots and winning the 1-1 duels. ‘I’ve always had good touch and feel for the game. But as a kid, when I started to fall in love with it I approached the game differently. I wanted to hone my game and go as far as I could with it so I spent countless hours in the gym, getting many repetitions. All of my work was done at game speed and game like shots. Practicing pretty much every scenario. But I put special emphasis on the bread and butter shots. Basically ones I know I can go to when the game is tight or my team really needs a bucket. On those shots you practice them even more. After the practicing and skill work I did what I think kids lack today. I played as much as I could. It was one on one, 5 on 5, 2 on 2 it didn’t matter I just needed to try my moves out and shots on live defense. To see what worked and what didn’t, and what I could improve on. That was extremely beneficial for me and then just constantly watching the game, studying it, learning it so that I could always evolve with the game of basketball’, warned Errick McCollum. Even if his scoring is his bread and butter, he can dish out 10 assists at any time. ‘I think my passing ability is extremely underrated. But over the years I have gained a good feeling of when to pass and when to shoot. It’s something that takes time, experience, but comes with success and failures. But with this you fully start to grasp the when and how. Also a lot of film study and understanding defenses and a team’s defensive principles is extremely helpful’, stated Errick McCollum. I hope that he plays many more years, because once he is gone, he will be missed. He may never have played in the NBA, but he will always have that NBA connection through his brother CJ. Happiness is what he got overseas and not reaching the NBA will never faze him. The connection to his brother will always be special. ‘I love my brother, we are best friends, we struggled together, had success together, really worked for everything we got. It’s different I’d say because we are close in age and embraced the same path with the ups and downs. That adversity draws you closer’, stated Errick Mccollum. If he ever does get bored, CJ will surely have enough NBA stories to keep any evening with the families next to the fire memorable.

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