Not all NBA players were stars their entire lives.

Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum was a late bloomer. Even as late as his sophomore year of high school, he was yet to show he had what it takes to play at the next level, let alone eventually the NBA.


“My sophomore year when I didn’t start varsity, I was coming off the bench, sixth man, and that was when I was like ‘Alright, I’m a little behind,’” said McCollum. “You start to look at the trajectory levels of where you’re at — I’m a realist — averaging 6.0 points a game on varsity, I’m 5-7 and I really need to take my game to the next level if I want to make this dream a reality. So I just kind of focused. I evaluated my lifestyle, my work ethic, reevaluated how I could kind of get better and find my niche.

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In his third season in the NBA, McCollum won the league’s Most Improved Player award. He increased his scoring from 6.8 to 20.8 points a night. Alongside Damian Lillard, he helped make up one of the most prolific scoring backcourts in the league.

The adversity McCollum faced during high school has certainly shaped the player he is today. He has a unique style that helps him keep defenses off balance, and a drive that keeps him working hard to improve every day.

The future is bright for McCollum and he has his past to thank for it.