Lehigh guard and NBA draft hopeful C.J. McCollum is back at full speed three months after suffering a left foot injury.
And it’s like he never left.
After the senior’s college career was cut short, McCollum didn’t let up during one of his first full practices. McCollum hit jump shots. He honed his ball-handling skills. He finished off the dribble. He even threw in a couple dunks.
It sure sounds like the preseason All-American is ready to prove to NBA scouts that he’s back. The potential lottery pick has three months to perfect his skills before the June 27 draft.
“I am doing everything I did when I was working out in the preseason,” McCollum said in a conference call Friday.
McCollum didn’t play after Jan. 5, when he broke his left foot during a 59-55 loss at Virginia Commonwealth. He was leading the country in scoring (25.7 points) at the time of the injury.
The smooth, 6-foot-3 guard finished as the Patriot League’s career scoring leader (2,361 points) in spite of missing the final two months of the season.
In between classes to finish his journalism degree in May, McCollum fits in a strength-and-conditioning regimen in part to help prevent further injury on both feet. He hits the court at night.
McCollum described the X-rays on his healed foot as “very beautiful.”
“Teams are pretty positive … My draft stock is still pretty good right now,” McCollum said. “It will be better once I get back on the court to prove that the injury hasn’t fazed me.”
An upset of powerhouse Duke in the 2012 NCAA tournament raised the profiles of the 15th-seeded Mountain Hawks and McCollum. Lehigh was considered the slight favorite over Bucknell in the Patriot League this year to repeat and return to the NCAAs with McCollum leading the way.
Instead, the Bison and their own NBA hopeful, center Mike Muscala, won the league. Bucknell fell to Butler in the NCAA.
McCollum said it was “beyond tough” to have to sit and watch conference play from the bench. He wore a boot on the injured foot until mid-March before finally going full speed last week. He’s reached out to NBA players who have come back from similar injuries.
“I knew it was broken when I did it,” he said. “But with the doctors we have today, there’s no reason that a player wouldn’t come back from a broken foot.”