McCullum looking for best assistants, recruits


Daren Jones is coach Robert McCullum’s top recruit so far. Photo courtesy Tulane athletics


By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook writer

The pace that Robert McCullum is moving to find prospects that will work alongside him and play on the floor is frantic.

But the veteran basketball coach who was hired in May to rebuild the FAMU men’s program said he’s going full throttle until he finds the best.
McCullum told the 220 Quarterback Club last week that he is looking at candidates for his assistants but he hadn’t settled on any yet. Meanwhile, there hasn’t been any shortage of players ringing his phone or walking into his office.

The problem he’s finding with recruiting, though, is that most of the ones who have been calling aren’t the best.

“In some instances the young men weren’t even a standout on their high school teams,” McCullum said. “For them to think that I could play at FAMU (because) FAMU hadn’t been good, that’s a total different situation.

“We want players who are going to be good players in the MEAC or can play levels  above the MEAC. That is what we’re looking at. We are not interested in guys who might only be able to play in the MEAC. Those are not, with all respect, going to help us get where we want to go.”

McCullum announced three signees last month, but over the weekend found out that he’s lost Godby standout Corbin Merritt. He announced on Twitter that he’s decided to attend Daytona State Junior College.


That came just a day after McCullum said Merritt was having some NCAA clearing house issues.

That leaves him with Tulane transfer Daren Jones and freshman Cameron Reeves from Illinois. While McCullum indicated that Reeves could be used in the upcoming season, he said that Jones will sit out a year.

There are at least two other players who meet McCullum’s standard and are likely to sign, he said. However, he is fast approaching a July 12 date that he’s set to evaluate some semblance of a team.

But he’ll do so without three players who have left the program. They are K’Ja Johnson, Andrew Smith and Derrick Dandridge who left late last month.
While McCullum hedged on saying how competitive the team that  he’ll finally put together would be, he said he’ll be “swinging for the fences” in 2018.
By then, he hopes to have a player or two who could carry the team.

“I would love to have a superstar that can play with superstar talent so it’s my job to help him realize his potential within the concept of the team,” he said. “Every team needs that.

“It takes pressure off other members of the team, but yet it’s a big responsibility. Every great team has a guy like that. You have to have a guy or two that you know can get you a basket or they’re going to draw a foul. So I welcome that caliber of player and I feel confident enough to help him play within a team concept.”