The 27-year old CJ McCollum has risen to the ranks of the top combo guards in the league since he was voted as the Most Improved Player in 2016. But people don't know that the Portland Trail Blazers star guard has already received a degree in Journalism, and he says that watching ESPN inspired him to take such path.

Jamie Cooper of Uproxx' Dime Magazine sat down with McCollum as they talked about the latter's passion towards journalism.

What first got you interested in journalism?

“I just always watched SportsCenter, ESPN. I was always interested in how they produce stories. How they post content. How articles are written. And I think being in the newspaper as a kid when you’re playing basketball, and just seeing your name in the newspaper, it brought excitement. And I always really enjoyed that process. Then I learned more about it as I got through high school and college. And I thought, you know, it might be cool to be able to talk about sports, break certain news to the public. And just have that outlet to where I control what content I want to go out. How it goes out. And how I have my own podcast.”

But the budding superstar's commitment does not just center on his personal interests. The Pull Up Podcast's main analyst has been dedicated to helping young aspiring journalists to achieve their goals.

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.

McCollum's story is an example of how the NBA players' influence on the community exceeds that of the four corners of the basketball court.