SENECA – Division I men’s basketball is not played at Lincoln College. In fact, its level of competition is not the highest at which Conlan Callahan had the opportunity to play.
What Callahan believes Lincoln, an NJCAA Division II school, can be is a stepping-stone to college basketball’s top class. He thus decided around his May graduation from Seneca High School to attend the downstate school on an academic scholarship and play basketball there.
“Their previous success was a big thing,” Callahan said of the two-time junior-college national champion Lynx. “The coach, Pat Lepper, I feel like he’s got to push me to where I want to be and at the end of the two years to where I want to go, which is Division I. That is my No. 1 goal.”
For someone who received interest from only NCAA Division III and NJCAA colleges, Division I dreams might be viewed as unrealistic ones. Seneca coach Russell Witte thinks such a leap is possible for Callahan, the 2014 Morris Daily Herald Boys Basketball Player of the Year, but that significant improvement is necessary.
“He’s got to be able to develop [nonshooting] skills – mainly getting stronger, getting more athletic and working on creating his own shot,” Witte said. “If he can get those three things down, there’s no doubt in my mind he can play at a small mid-major.”
Two of Callahan’s brothers, Garrett and Griffan, played Division I basketball at South Dakota State. And when Conlan plays his first game for the Lynx, he will be the seventh sibling of Ed and Karen Callahan’s children to play college basketball. Karen says it is a feat that she never would have expected, but Ed says he did see all of his children advancing beyond the prep level.
“I wanted them to play college sports and so did she,” Ed said, “but what we did, how we did it, which was the laps – running laps, pushing them that if they don’t go to college, it will be a lot harder to make it through. Sports can help you.”
A few of Conlan’s siblings have been involved in coaching now that their playing careers are over, be it as coach of a high-school team like oldest brother, Brennen, at Sandwich, or as founder of an AAU programm like Garrett, with the Illinois Ambush. Conlan plans to become a teacher and coach at some level himself.
“We don’t really talk about how we all went to college or anything,” Conlan said. “They ask me and they want to know, and they’re really proud of what I’m going to be a part of, but it’s not really a topic of conversation. It comes up sparingly.”