Heading into his sixth season, C.J. McCollum is firmly in his prime. He and Damian Lillard comprise one of the deadliest backcourt duos in the NBA, and McCollum is arguably among the best and most creative scorers in the league at his position.
But McCollum’s interests have always extended beyond the court, as well. Before entering the 2013 draft, he played all four years at Leigh University, where he graduated with a B.A. in journalism. And McCollum has continued to nurture his love for journalism over the years, writing articles for various media outlets like the Players’ Tribune, making broadcast appearances on all the major sports networks, and even landing a coveted interview with league commissioner Adam Silver.
McCollum is also helping to nurture aspiring young journalists. Through his initiative, “C.J.’s Press Pass,” high school students interested in studying journalism can receive media credentials to home games and other events, along with mentorship opportunities with local media professionals. In 2016, he opened The C.J. McCollum Dream Center at the local Boys and Girls Club, which is an interactive multi-media learning room that offers access to computers, broadcast equipment, and introductory classes on various aspects of the industry.
We caught up with McCollum at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new center in Portland this week, where he was on hand to interact with local youth and tape a live episode of his popular podcast, “Pull Up,” with co-host Jordan Schultz and surprise guest Damian Lillard, who made an unscheduled appearance to join the conversation and hang out with the youth who were in attendance.
McCollum spoke to us about how he first got interested in journalism as a potential career, what the newest Dream Center means to him, and how he feels about the Blazers roster heading into the coming season.
What would a center like this have meant to you as a youngster who was interested in journalism growing up? How much of an impact do you think it would have had to have access to these types of tools and resources early on?
It would have a huge impact. I think just being able to learn how to use certain equipment. Learning how to utilize green screen. Learning how to use utilize Adobe early on at an early age would’ve been very, very beneficial. Figuring out what a podcast was. That wasn’t even around back when I was growing up as a kid. Just having those tools available. Guest speakers, introductions to your career path was just something I would’ve been thankful to have, but I’m glad I can provide it for the kids.