In a tense Allen Fieldhouse atmosphere, the fervor of Javian McCollum raged brilliantly. He lit up the court, both with his display of talent and his character. McCollum finished with 17 points on 5-9 shooting against Kansas, his third-most efficient game of the season. He played like he has been playing Big 12 basketball for all of his college career. No one could tell he was playing mid-major basketball at Siena College a short time ago.
Show Some Respect for Javian McCollum
Now, this is not a knack on MAAC, and especially not on Siena. The MAAC has a long history of collegiate and professional success, especially for guys like Lionel Simmons and Luis Flores. Through all of the conference realignment and transfer madness over the past 30 years, the MAAC has remained a steady, yet unsung, producer of underrated talent. Most recently, Denver Nuggets guard Jalen Pickett, who transferred from Siena to Penn State following the 2021 season. It’s also the conference that gave Rick Pitino a chance to revitalize his career, which it remarkably did.
McCollum Is Special
But McCollum is something special. He is averaging 14.9 PPG, 2.8 RPG, and 4.0 APG in his first season at Oklahoma. He has been a primary source of scoring and overall productivity in their resurgent season. McCollum is solidifying himself as a Power 5 caliber player, similar to what Pickett did at Penn State two years ago. Although he may be overlooked for his skinny frame, he is a streaky guard who makes up for it with his elusiveness. McCollum is an above-average three-point shooter at 39% and is a solid finisher with an ability to weave around defenders. There was some concern that his skills would not be able to translate to the Big 12, as is the case with most transfers from mid-majors. He has exceeded these expectations in his first year in Norman and should be on the radar of more NBA scouts.
McCollum is crafty with the ball, working around screens with skill and taking high-percentage shots. He is very calm – almost a little bit cocky – with the ball in his hands. The six-foot-one guard plays at his own speed, allowing the Sooners to run the play and giving McCollum time to plan his attack. He often dishes the rock to Milos Uzan and Otega Oweh, two of Oklahoma’s most dynamic scorers. McCollum is the palpable rationale behind Oklahoma’s efficiency shooting the ball – good for the top five in the nation. He capitalizes on possessions that seem like they’re going nowhere and is the apotheosis of a triple-threat player. To sum it up, he is a well-versed player with an even better personality.
The Last Word
With time running down in the first half against Kansas, McCollum hit a clutch two, rounding a screen from Sam Godwin, giving Oklahoma the lead by a point. He pedaled backwards to his end with a smirk, nodding his head with delight. A year ago on that date, he was doing similar things in a close conference game against Niagara, dropping 27 and assisting eight. Battling the blistering cold weather and fans of Lawrence, Kansas, a year later, McCollum is burgeoning with potential. Other than now playing in the best conference in college basketball, nothing has changed. McCollum is the same dazzling player he was a year ago and is arguably better now, playing against tougher competition.
The next time a proven talent transfers from Siena, we should all be ready for another rude awakening.