D.J. McCall attended some Mad Ants games as a kid. He even got a photo alongside Ron Howard, the Mad Ants’ all-time leading scorer.
“Never, in a million years, did I go to those games thinking I want to play for them someday,” said McCall, a Concordia graduate.
McCall, however, has an agreement, announced Sunday, to attend Mad Ants training camp when it opens Oct. 28 and could become the first Fort Wayne native to ever make the roster.
“I have goals of playing in the upper leagues in Europe,” McCall said. “I feel as if I’m going to go across the world, and if I have the opportunity to start my career in my backyard and have my family and friends come watch me play, I felt it was a no-brainer (to sign with the Mad Ants).
“There’s so much turnover in the G league, but the Mad Ants’ staff and front office has been there for years for a reason. It’s very structured and it was an attraction for me.”
McCall, 6-foot-6, played at IUPUI from 2014 to 2019. He was the Horizon League’s Defensive Player of the Year last season, averaging 7.7 points, 6 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.4 steals.
While McCall worked out for the Canton Charge and Grand Rapids Drive, too, he got the attention of the Mad Ants at an open tryout Sept. 21.
Kason Harrell, who played last season for PFW, also tried out that day and announced tonight he’d be in the Mad Ants’ camp.
While the Mad Ants are not yet allowed to comment on McCall or Harrell because of G League rules, McCall feels it was his unique skill set that enabled him to get the attention of general manager Brian Levy and coach Steve Gansey.
“I played pretty well at the tryout and I was really able to display that I could play, and guard, four (or) five positions,” McCall said. “Me being 6-6, I was one of the taller guys. I was just able to show my versatility and play hard and defend, and thankfully they were interested.”
McCall went into the summer believing he’d end up playing overseas, but he learned that teams there coveted American players with a better offensive résumés. After some time in the G League, where energetic role players can make names for themselves, he could become a more valuable commodity overseas.
“My role at IUPUI was to guard the other team’s best scorer and I feel like if I can do that at the professional level, it gives me a lot of value,” said McCall, who got positive recommendations on the Mad Ants from players he knew, such as Tra-Deon Hollins and Michael Orris.
Harrell, 6-2, averaged 15.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists last season for PFW.
The Mad Ants have had players from northeast Indiana – Huntington North’s Chris Kramer and Warsaw’s Miles Plumlee – and also a former IPFW player, DeWitt Scott. Snider’s Reggie Hearn and New Haven’s V.J. Beachem played for other G League teams last season.