McCallums, Detroit prevail father-son clash

DETROIT – Billy Baron read an article online last spring about Ray McCallum Jr., who, after passing up offers from UCLA, Florida and Arizona, was making a trip to the NCAA Tournament with his Detroit Titans and their coach, Ray Sr. Intrigued, Baron logged onto Facebook and sent McCallum a message looking for advice.

Billy Baron guarded by Ray McCallum.

Billy Baron guarded by Ray McCallum.

Baron transferred from Virginia to Rhode Island midway through his freshman year to try to accomplish the same thing with his father, Rams coach Jim Baron. When Jim was fired last March and hired a month later by Canisius, Billy had a choice: Go play for a school with national exposure in a power conference, or go down a step and play for a mid-major to stay with his dad. So he asked the player who would know best.

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Detroit’s court is named after its former coach, Dick Vitale.

“I asked him what it was like to win a championship with his father and go to the NCAA Tournament,” Billy Baron said this week. “That’s what it’s all about. That’s the reason why I’m here [at Canisius], to go to the NCAA Tournament. Only reason.”

McCallum was sympathetic for Baron’s situation – and offered the encouragement he needed to hear.

“He was in a tough situation,” McCallum said of Baron. “I just told him that you can’t go wrong with your dad. That’s what I did, and he always has my best interests in him, and I felt like his father would have the same in him. I told him go wherever your heart says to go. I don’t think you can go wrong staying home and playing for your dad.”

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