July 17, 2012 Getting to Know Earl Calloway
One of the more obscure players on the Washington Wizards Summer League roster is a guy by the name of Earl Calloway. Calloway’s career is a testament to the fact that an NBA roster spot is a remarkably elusive goal to attain. That being said, his career to this point also shows off the fact that there are other ways to make a living playing basketball that don’t involve the NBA. Even though most basketball fans in America barely give a glance over at the Euro League standings, there happens to be loads of talent over there playing some incredibly good ball. One of those players is the guy we’re covering today.
Calloway was born in 1983 in Atlanta, Georgia, which believe it or not makes him a little under two years younger than 11-year veteran guard Tony Parker. He played his high school basketball at Atlanta Westlake, where he is a bit of a local legend. During his senior year, way back in 2002, Calloway was named a member of Street & Smith’s All-American team (S & S was merged into TSN’s publication back in 2007, so that’s why the accolade may not ring a bell). He was also first team All-State in Georgia after dishing out a record 632 assists (at around 9 assists per game). Calloway led his team to a 31-1 record and the 4A State Championship, finishing his career with 1,300 points. Despite these great achievements in high school, Calloway would face an uphill battle in becoming a college superstar.
Instead of signing with a top ranked program, as his abilities would suggest he should, Calloway decided to enroll at Georgia Perimeter College. GPC is actually an enormous junior college, with over 26,000 people enrolled per year as of 2011 (for reference, it’s about 6,000 shy of the University of Georgia). It is by no means a small school, and is actually a very accomplished JUCO program. While there, Calloway managed to become an NJCAA All-American and GJCAA All-Conference after averaging 18 points, 5 steals, and 4.8 assists per game. After being successful there, he caught a break with a major college program in New Mexico State.
Unfortunately, Calloway didn’t have such a great time with the Aggies as he thought he would, because nothing went as planned. After traveling across the country from Atlanta, Calloway played scant minutes backing up Jason Fontenent (the former Oregon State transfer). Earl finished the season averaging 1.9 points per game, and appearing in 28 games. He was more than likely a bit more talented than Fontenet, but like most freshman, had to wait his turn. That turn never came to fruition, though, because Calloway was suspended indefinitely during his sophomore season after violating team rules. It’s hard to say exactly what he did, but one can be sure that it was a serious offense because he was suspended for the entire season.
After having enough of the Aggies, Calloway became the first junior college player since 1999 to transfer into Indiana University. It was as a Hoosier that Calloway’s career finally started to take off. During his first year there in ’05-’06, Earl averaged 5.7 points per game while shooting 37% from long range while playing around 19 minutes per game. Calloway finished the season incredibly strong, including an 18 point on 8-of-9 shooting, 6 steal performance against San Diego State University and a near triple-double (13 points, 10 assists, 9 rebounds) against Gonzaga. This allowed him to secure the starting guard spot for Indiana during his final season at Indiana. He followed up that strong performance next season (his senior season), where he averaged career highs in points (9.6), assists(4.3), and rebounds (3.2) while playing in 29 games.
Upon finishing his career at Indiana, Calloway’s performance, while improved, did not merit being drafted into the NBA. Instead, Calloway played in the NBDL for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in hopes of gaining some attention there from NBA scouts. He followed that up by being named the MVP of the team after averaging 19 points per game and shooting 40% from three point range. During 50 games as the point guard there, he racked up 289 assists and averaged 2 steals per game. His all around game may not have given him an NBA spot, but it did get him job offers over in Europe playing against top-level competition.
During the ’08-’09 season, Calloway found himself playing for KK Cibona, a Croatian team that competes in the A-1 Liga and Adriatic League (two top regional leagues in Europe). While there, his Cibona squad continued to absolutely pummel the competition over there as they had historically done (they’ve won 17 of the last 21 A-1 Liga Cups). While there, he proved himself to be an adept scorer in the Euroleague, averaging 12.6 points per game on 59% shooting (from two-point range) in 16 total games. That showing continued to move his career forward, as he was invited shortly after to play for the best leauge in Europe (Liga ACB) with Cajasol Sevilla in Spain.
Calloway has played with Cajasol Sevilla since 2009, and his results there have been variable. European statistics are pretty hard to decipher and translate into NBA statistics, but Calloway hasn’t been bad overall. He’s averaged around 9 points per game there, but one interesting thing to note is that Calloway also plays with Wizards second round draft pick Tomas Satoransky. That may actually have been Ernie’s reasoning for including Calloway on the Wizards Summer League roster in the first place, as he may serve as a mentor to Tomas in some ways.Perhaps one of Grunfeld’s moves makes sense now!
This entire journey brings us to Las Vegas, where Calloway has been a bright spot for the struggling Washington Wizards (1-2). Through three games, Calloway has been a sharp shooter from long range, connecting on 5-of-8 three pointers. He also collected seven rebounds over the two games he has played in, which is important because he has been dreadful at getting assists for whatever reason (he has 0 total). If Earl Calloway continues to impress, he may end up wresting the Washington Wizards’ backup point guard position away from incumbent Shelvin Mack. Here’s to hoping that Mr. Calloway can officially crack an NBA roster, regardless of if it’s the Wizards or not!
Earl Calloway Highlights!