Yesterday Donna Ditona wrote an excellent story detailing the tough upbringing of SU’s incoming freshman phenom Chris McCullough for the Post Standard. McCullough’s mother, Brenda Ryer, sent her son out of state for high school because of the violence in the Bronx. One of McCullough’s best friends died in 2008 from either a gunshot wound or a car accident. Both McCullough and his mother are unsure of the exact details.
Growing up in the Bronx, McCullough has seen many great athletes fall short of their potential because of drugs and violence:
“I feel like everybody around here just hopes I make it ’cause there have been people around here who could have made it but something happened to them.”
McCullough’s from the Bronx; he’s not supposed to make it.
And he knows that, which is what inspires him. He puts immense pressure on himself. He told Ditona, “I just gotta make it. I need to make it. For myself. And just to take my family out the ‘hood. That’s my dream.” Day one at SU hasn’t even happened yet, but McCullough already has a tremendous sense of urgency; he has to succeed. There is no other option. He has been blessed with a wonderful opportunity and now is his time to take advantage and get himself and his family out of the hood of the Bronx for good.
Currently, next years’ Orange basketball squad lacks a go-to guy. With the departures of CJ Fair and Tyler Ennis, Jim Boeheim needs someone new to turn to in crunch time.
Trevor Cooney was too inconsistent last season to be this player and Michael Gbinije is not ready to take on that role either. The rest of the contributors to last season’s team who did not graduate or leave early are big men who certainly cannot be expected to take over late. Somebody new is going to have to step up.
McCullough may only be a freshman, but he has the tools and the drive to light up the Carrier Dome and be that player for Syracuse. His mother sacrificed a lot to put her son into boarding schools to boost his basketball development and take him off of the streets. A successful freshman season at SU will definitely make that sacrifice worth it.
Posted by: Connor Morrissette