Rip City, meet C.J. McCollum, one of the newest members of the Portland Trail Blazers. Hes excited to be here and the feeling is mutual with the team.
Its a great situation, great ownership and great coach, said McCollum.
I think its a situation where I felt like I could thrive. I have guys in front of me where I could learn from. Damian Lillard is a guy that has done it before; hes where Im trying to get to in terms of being rookie of the year, playing 82 games in the year, being injury-free throughout his career thus far, besides not breaking his foot like I did. I think its a good situation and the biggest thing coming out of college is to go where youre wanted, you dont want to be somebodys second or third option where youre looking at the board and hes there, lets take him. You want it to be: Thats the guy. And I felt like that was a situation where they wanted me; I wanted them. It was a mutual love.
General Manager Neil Olshey was ecstatic when McCollum was available at No. 10 to the Blazers. Ecstatic enough that he apparently slapped team owner Paul Allens knee in a how about that? type statement.
Hes the whole package, hes similar to Dame (Lillard) the way he carries himself, said Olshey. He has command presence on the floor, hes got incredible confidence.
He can really make plays off the dribble, which is something I think will make our offense a little more fluid. Hes another guy who really wanted to be here, I think, from early on in the process. His agent is a friend of mine. He talked right away that this is the best place for him. He and Damian have been in constant communication, it was just a perfect fit. For a long time we didnt feel like he was going to get to us, and when he was, we were ecstatic.
If McCollum proves to be as good as hes being touted, Portland may have found yet another gem via the draft.
Fans can get their first look at C.J. when he plays on Portlands Summer League team later this month. And in a surprise announcement, the Blazers announced Damian Lillard will play with the team in Las Vegas where he was named co-MVP last year.
In addition to McCollum and Lillard, Allen Crabbe, who was originally chosen by Cleveland in the second round and traded to Portland and Meyers Leonard among others will be on Portlands roster.