The WCU men's basketball team opened up the 2012-13 season officially with its first practice of the season in the Ramsey Center, Friday evening.
In the summer of 2004, the Western Carolina basketball program welcomed back one of its all-time greats when Anquell McCollum was named assistant coach. McCollum, the consensus 1996 Southern Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Year, enters his 13th season as an assistant coach.
When Larry Hunter was named Western's 17th head coach in April of 2005, keeping McCollum was one of Hunter's first acts. McCollum retained his role in recruiting, coaching the guards and involving the team in community services
McCollum moved to the Catamount athletic department after spending the 2003-04 academic year working as the assistant director of admissions for Western Carolina University. Prior to that, he worked one year as a computer skills teacher at Spring Lake (N.C.) Middle School and played professional basketball abroad from 1996-2000.
McCollum, a native of Fayetteville, N.C., and a product of E.E. Smith High School, led Western Carolina to one of its most successful seasons in school history. After a 3-10 start to the 1995-96 season, including a loss to Division II Coker, the McCollum-led Catamounts rallied to win 11 of their final 13 regular season games to finish with a 10-4 league mark and the SoCon South Division Championship, the program's first-ever SoCon title. Then, Western won three games in the SoCon Tournament, including an upset over Davidson that ended the Wildcats' 19-game winning streak, to capture the Catamounts' only tournament championship. McCollum's team-high 21 points in the first round of the 1996 NCAA Championship helped the 16th-seeded Catamounts pull off a near upset over top-seed Purdue, falling 73-71 to the Boilermakers in the West Regional. (The game was tied at 71-71 with under three minutes to play.)
McCollum, a member of WCU's 12-man, All-20th Century Team, was a two-time, first team All-SoCon selection and finished his career as the WCU and SoCon all-time leader in both 3-pointers made (245) and attempted (670). He currently ranks third on both league lists for treys, while ranking sixth on the WCU all-time scoring list with 1,777 career points. McCollum additionally ranks eighth on the WCU career list for field goals made (622), 10th on the WCU career 3-point field goal percentage list (.366), 10th on the WCU career assists list (315) and fifth on the WCU career steals list (147). He appears on the WCU single-season lists a total of seven times, including his WCU single-season record of 99 3-pointers made, and owns WCU single-game records for best free throw percentage (18-of-18 versus Marshall in 1996).
McCollum's career got off to an impressive start as he was named to the SoCon All-Freshman team for the 1992-93 season, starting 13 of the team's final 14 games at point guard. As a sophomore (1993-94), he dished out 3.5 assists per game against SoCon competition to rank fifth in the league, feeding the conference's Player of the Year Frankie King, while ranking second in minutes played (34.5) and 18th in scoring (12.1 ppg). Also, he earned the first of three SoCon All-Tournament honors. As a junior (1994-95), he earned both first team All-SoCon and SoCon All-Tournament honors, ranking fourth in the conference in scoring (17.8 ppg) and ranking among the top 10 in five other categories. He and King, who won his second Player of the Year honor, helped the Cats reach the 1995 SoCon Tournament final, falling 63-61 to Chattanooga in the title game.
As a senior, McCollum made it three straight SoCon Player of the Year honors for Western as he was tabbed the league's top player after leading the league and ranking fifth nationally in scoring 25.0 ppg. He additionally ranked 16th nationally in 3-pointers made and earned 1996 SoCon Tournament MVP honors. McCollum scored a total of 751 points in 1995-96, which ranks fifth on the school's single-season list.
After his career at Western (1992-96), McCollum spent four seasons playing basketball professionally. His first stop was playing in France for the 1996-97 season. From 1997-99 he played professionally in Venezuela. Also during that span he played in Columbia (1998) and Hong Kong (1998). He additionally played one season (2000) in the Dominican Republic, while playing in the United States Basketball League for the Treasure Island Tropics as well.
He returned to Cullowhee in 2000 when he completed his bachelor's in Computer Information Systems at Western. He is married to the former Marie White. The couple have two daughters, Jhimya and Aaliyah.