CJ McCollum Has No Time for Naps: “I’ll Sleep When I Die.”

CJ McCollum isn’t a household name, but you should consider him for a quality fantasy roster. Following a sophomore season where he established himself as a force to be reckoned with, CJ’s output in the 2015-2016 season has him poised to be this season’s Most Improved Player.

CJ’s day-to-day duties include being co-host and DJ of two Portland radio shows, serving as a Contributing Editor of The Players’ Tribune, and being a brand ambassador for a number of companies, including Mountain Dew.

While sitting on the OVO Summit panel (presented by Mountain Dew, OVO Bounce and NBA Cares, in conjunction withThe Remix Project), CJ spoke to the students about how coming from a small school, dealing with an early injury with the potential of negatively affecting his trajectory, and having detractors early on in his burgeoning career kept him driven.

CJ McCollum

Take advantage of any opportunity to show what you’ve got, even if face-to-face with doubt or deterrence.

“Playing at a small school, there were always a lot of doubts. People would say things like we had light competition and that we couldn’t consistently perform against some of the higher-level schools. But once I started playing well, the bigger teams wouldn’t play against us. Every school in Ohio refused to play us after my sophomore year because I had 42 against Kent State. I’m from Ohio so I wanted to play every school in Ohio, that didn’t recruit me, and get fifty. Everyone saw that and said, ‘No we’ll play you when he graduates.’ I had an understanding that this was my last chance to showcase what I can do. It was a mixture of emotions and having that understanding that if I don’t play well they’ll look at me like I wasn’t ready or that I can’t play well against the top-tier competition. So I just wanted to make sure that I took advantage.”

There will always be eyes watching you, especially when you least expect it.

“They talk to the current coaches, they talk to the athletics directors, and they reach out to professors; they’re doing their own background checks to see exactly what type of person you are and how you act when no one’s watching. They’re going to give you millions of dollars, so they want to know if you’re going to blow it, if you’re going to be in the clubs all night, and are you going to be doing God-knows-what since you’ll have all of this money and a lot more power.”

Use your time wisely.

Coming into this season I was healthy, I was prepared, and I spent a lot of time working on my game and sacrificing free time to make sure that I was ready because you don’t get opportunities like this often.

A photo posted by CJMcCollum (@3jmccollum) on

It’s all about how you bounce back.

“You come off injuries and you start to get labeled. They’ll say you’re injury-prone, you’re a tweener, you can’t do this or you can’t do that. It’ll be easy for them to compare you to someone that came before you who went down the same road, and you don’t want to be compared to someone’s who’s struggling. You want to be compared to someone that succeeded and persevered. I knew that if I did what I was supposed to do that everything would handle itself.”

Present yourself as someone that a brand or supporters can unequivocally stand behind. Doing this will establish you as a name that can be trusted.

“I came in the league with two deals: I had a Nike deal and a Mini Car deal. I’m in my third year, now I have a deal with Wells Fargo and I just did something with Mountain Dew. … I do this so I don’t have to think about my next move in life. I don’t have to think about my career afterward because it’s all going to fall into place because my preparation is flawless is right now.

Images: Viktoria Warpas & CJ McCollum

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