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Junior in the classroom, sophomore on the court

By Drew Amstutz ’18 for the Fall 2016 Cadets Magazine

The life of a student athlete is often one of chance and daily defeating the odds set before them. College athletes in particular must work hard to excel in the classroom and court. Concordia alumnus and IUPUI basketball star DJ McCall is doing just that. 

McCall, a 2014 CLHS graduate and IUPUI small forward, is looking to carry his team to victory in the Summit League Championship, a win that would guarantee the Jaguars a bid in the NCAA Tournament. 

“My personal goal is to win Defensive Player of the Year in the conference. I think in order to reach these goals, I must stay focused and enjoy the process of the non-conference and conference season,” he said.

A key player during his IUPUI freshman season, McCall averaged 4.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game. His sophomore year made an unexpected turn as he found himself redshirted, a strategy used by coaches to extend a student’s playing eligibility.

“My coach felt that if I used the year to sit out and improve my skills, it would benefit me greatly long term,” he said. 

It is McCall’s hope that the experience of being redshirted will give him the edge he needs during the conference championship.

Leading teams to championships is not foreign to McCall. This Cadet was instrumental during the CLHS state championship run in 2013. McCall hopes that his experience in high-pressure situations can make him a valuable asset for the Indy basketball team.

McCall has been listed on IUPUI’s Academic Advisor’s List and the Summit League Academic Honor Roll. He credits his coach’s redshirt decision to his academic achievements and also considers the academic excellence he received at Concordia to be a contributing factor. 

“While at Concordia, I was at times filled with homework in five or more classes, and I had to possess time management in order to be successful in the classroom,” McCall said. “Organization and time management are so important in college. I felt more than ready in these two aspects after leaving Concordia.” 

Junior in the classroom, and a sophomore on the court, McCall sees being redshirted as a win-win opportunity.  

“I’ve gotten better as a basketball player in all aspects — physically, mentally and emotionally,” he said. “It’s also benefiting me greatly as a student. I am on track to graduate a semester early, which means I’ll have a year and a half to work on graduate studies.”

After college, McCall hopes to play professional international basketball. While playing, he plans to freelance in website or app development, a field he never would have imagined stepping into. 

“I took the class (Intro to Computer Science) solely for the purpose of achieving the academic honors diploma,” he said. “I was clueless about computer science, and honestly thought it would be a typing class.” 

McCall describes his experience in the class as a struggle, where at one point he was even failing. Concordia’s computer science teacher, Scott Storm, stepped in and helped him realize his full potential.

“He didn’t give up on me,” he said. “He kept believing in me.” 

McCall now finds himself on track to major in informatics with a specialization in web design and human-computer interaction. He is currently on track to graduate a semester early, giving him more time to work on graduate studies. McCall envisions using his computing skills to teach high school students the art of coding, maybe even inspiring others to find their true calling.