Senior Spotlight- Garrett McCollum

When you hear the phrase ”senior athlete,” there is one guy in particular that embodies all that stands for: leader, competitor, and motivator; three words that make up a great athlete. He is driven, committed, and remains level headed in all situations, bringing a sense of calm to the court.

This week, UCA Nest staffers are honoring Garrett McCollum and highlighting his high school basketball career as well as many of his other great achievements.

Garrett has been part of UCA’s basketball program since 8th grade, where he was on the middle grades first-ever team. Coming into high school, he made the varsity team as a freshman, where he was a role player, playing solid defense and an option to the team’s bigger, more experienced players; available to knock down shots when it was needed. ”It was an unbelievable experience. I learned so much and gained so much valuable knowledge that I still apply to this day. Watching and playing alongside such talented players made me a much better player and leader, today, ” McCollum commented when asked about what it was like playing varsity as a freshman. That year, as well as his sophomore year, Garrett was part of two championship-contending teams.

During his junior year and in his current senior season, the boys’ varsity team has been a younger team, rebuilding and growing. As an upperclassman and one of the more experienced players throughout the two seasons, Garrett is tasked to score at a higher volume and fill a leadership role. ”I have to play longer minutes and keep control over my teammates to give us the best chance at success,” he adds. Following his junior year, McCollum was named All-Conference.

Leading up to his senior season when summer and fall workouts rolled around, Garrett put in a lot of preparation and work to be even more of an asset for his team. Coach Monroe was asked how he prepared McCollum for his last season and he said, ”Garrett is known as a shooter in our conference. Often times he has the other team’s best defender on him. So this last offseason, I really wanted him to focus on adding to his game. Scoring off the dribble, getting to the basket was a big focus for him.”

Now, as he wraps up his final year of basketball, Garrett reflects on how it has gone so far. ”The season is like a roller-coaster; full of various ups and downs that are tough to predict or prepare for. As a young team, we are still learning and adjusting to the difficulties of a long

Life, and especially high school, is too short to have a negative attitude, so they need to focus on enjoying this opportunity while they still have it.”

— Garrett McCollum to his teammates

season. Once we can figure out how to manage the various challenges we may face, we will be a very successful team.” Going into their final week of the conference regular season, the boys’ varsity holds a 5-7 record.

The end of Garrett’s last season as a UCA Eagle is quickly approaching, and for someone who has been playing basketball since he was four years old, that is not an easy thing to accept. ”The thing I will miss the most is playing the game I love. Basketball is such a fun sport to play, so I will miss being out on the court having fun.” While thinking back on his basketball career and his time playing here at UCA, Garrett added, ”Basketball has taught me that you can accomplish absolutely anything in life if you are willing to fully dedicate yourself to working towards it. It has also taught me to never give up, no matter how difficult a situation may be.’

”Garrett has brought a sense of maturity to our program. The past two years we have been extremely young, and Garrett has been a player that we could always rely on to bring a sense of calm and grace on and off the court,” Coach Monroe says, talking about what the senior has brought to his team over the last four years. 

Not only is he a star on the court, but Garrett is also stellar in the classroom. He has successfully juggled the loads of work that come from taking college-level classes, on top of daily basketball practices and games. ”It is all about work ethic and time management. I refuse to allow myself to fall behind in any work, as I try to work ahead in any way possible. By working ahead, I ensure that all work is completed on time, and prevent the chance of having a large quantity of work at one time. I also have a really strong work ethic in academics and athletics. My parents always pushed me to achieve excellence in the classroom and on the court, so I have always been instilled with that strong work ethic. I definitely owe a great amount of thanks to my mother, Jenny, for always pushing me to be my absolute best at everything I do.”

McCollum is currently ranked second overall in the entire senior class and will be graduating this June with his associates in science. After high school, Garrett plans to attend either NC State or UNC to study biology. Following his undergraduate studies, he hopes to go on to dental school at Chapel Hill, with the dream of one day becoming an orthodontist.

Aside from playing basketball, Garrett says he enjoys riding four-wheelers and spending time with his beautiful girlfriend, Gabi Greene. ”I also like watching NC State sports and spending time with my family and 2 dogs.”