The McCall’s ‘got hops like pops’


 By Chris Burdick

Assistant Sports Editor

The Ogwumike sisters. The Morris twins. The Ball family.

These are some of the most well-known, modern-day basketball siblings. Living proof that basketball is not just a team sport, but a family affair. California State University, Bakersfield has one of these basketball families playing on it’s home court.

Coach Greg McCall has been the head coach for the CSUB women’s basketball team for the last eight years.

As a former player for the CSUB Roadrunners back in 1991, McCall made it all the way to the Division II Final Four. He was also part of the womens basketball coaching staff when they won a Division II title as an assistant coach in 1997.

His love for the sport of basketball has driven his coaching career forward and rubbed off on his children as well. The family seems to gravitate to the game, seeing no shortage of talent on the court.

“It started off as an extracurricular activity. Then just got more serious as they got older,” McCall said. “I was never one of those dads that pushed basketball on them, because I am a basketball junkie.”

Although McCall did not force the game on any of his children, he said that they have all somehow gravitated to the game individually.

Starting with his eldest daughter DeWanna Bonner, McCall was able to help create a successful student-athlete mentality. DeWanna become a star player at Auburn University and was selected 5th overall in the 2009 WNBA draft by the Phoenix Mercury. 

Next was McCall’s second oldest daughter Erica.Following in the footsteps of her older sister, Erica was awarded a scholarship to attend Stanford University. Where she played against CSUB and her father in 2016.

“It was awesome, but I wanted to win. I wanted to beat her and beat Stanford,” said McCall. “The way I coach my team, they are going to play hard for me anyway. But that was just extra motivation.” 

“I knew deep down that everybody wanted Erica to win.” coach McCall laughed. “Because Erica is Erica.”

Cal State lost that game 77-56. And in the 2017, Erica followed in her sister DeWanna’s footsteps once again, and was drafted in the second round of the WNBA draft by the Indiana Fever.

Today, the oldest son of McCall, Justin, is in his sophomore year playing guard for the CSUB men’s basketball team. He is currently working hard to find the same success that his older sisters have found. 

Justin is currently averaging 2.7 points per game off the bench and has registered a career high of 11 points during his game on January 29 against University of California, Santa Cruz.

Justin attended Ridgeview high school growing up, and was able to lead the Wolfpack to a 10-0 record in the Southern Yosemite League, and a Division II Central Section title run.

“We don’t really talk basketball that much.” Justin said, talking about his relationship with his siblings. “Just like the normal sibling stuff.”

As is normal in many sibling relationships, rivalries can sprout through competition. This was the case for Justin and his sister Erica growing up.

“Ohh, we definitely went at it,” Justin said. “When I was in 7th grade she used to kill me. She was way taller than me. She was like 6’2’’ and I was only 5’6’’. But we played this last summer and I won so that’s all that matters.”

Justin grew up following the precedent of his sisters before him. He kept up his academics first and works towards having the highest GPA on the team for a second straight year. Both of his sisters did this while playing at the collegiate level.

“I told him like I told Erica, we aren’t going to create anything different. Once DeWanna picks her foot up you are going to put yours right there in the same footprint,” said Coach McCall.

Growing up seeing the success of his sisters only fueled Justin towards the same goal they had, making it to the professional level.

“I don’t feel pressure from anyone but myself. I’ve never been pressured by my sisters, because they are already there, or family to make it to that level,” Justin said. “I want to do it for myself.” 

“I’m just trying to improve my game to help the team win,” Justin said. “No long-term goals right now. Just taking things day by day.”

If professional basketball is not an option, Justin plans to continue his schooling and finish with a degree in history. He wants to become a high school history teacher and coach basketball on side.

“I’ve always been a huge fan of my kids.” McCall said. “My favorite line, even though it comes from their mothers side, has always been hops like pops. Even though I didn’t really have any.”

While reminiscing about a few coach McCall’s favorite memories of his children playing. McCall predicted who would win in a friendly, family pick-up game of horse.

“Me. My kids still can’t beat me.” he said with a laugh. “I’m going to give them one more shot before I turn 50. If not, then I’m retiring the champ.” 

Justin smiled when he was told his father’s answer.

“Oh, I know I’d win,” Justin said laughing. “I told him he doesn’t have to do that. He can’t retire with the crown like that.”

Whether or not DeWanna, Erica, or Justin finally de-throne their father in their family pick-up games.

One thing is for sure, the McCall’s can ball.