Callahan came home

A second chance is always a good thing, just ask Griffan Callahan.

Griffan Callahan grew up pouring concrete for his dad’s construction business, but after four years at State the consumer affairs major has cemented his place as one of the program’s top three-point shooters.

“Definitely looking back, I would have signed here first—that was my first mistake, but that’s over with—I’m just glad I came here. It’s been a great experience, and I can’t thank the coaching staff enough for everything they did for me.”

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound guard/forward was the lone senior on the SDSU basketball team this season—a campaign that saw the Jackrabbits enjoy an unprecedented season with a 27-8 record, their first Summit League Tournament championship, and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

“It mostly started last year with Clint (Sargent), Dale (Moss), and Payton (Tivis),” says Callahan, referring to the Jacks’ 19-12 record. “They really got us on the winning side of things. We made it our goal to continue that and we did. It was a lot of fun.”

Callahan’s path to State didn’t come in a straight line from his hometown of Seneca, Ill. At the beginning of his senior year in high school, he was recruited “really hard” by the Jacks’ coaching staff, however, not wanting to commit that early, he declined to sign and consequently SDSU pulled the offer.

Concentrating only on basketball and admitting that he wasn’t paying much attention on who was recruiting him, Callahan ended up signing with the University of North Dakota, a Division II school in Grand Forks that ended up not being a real good fit as he soon discovered.

“They redshirted me and I really didn’t want to do that,” he relates. “Plus, I was a long way from home and Garrett was here.”

A quiet leader

Yes, indeed, with older brother Garrett, a junior who would join the Jacks’ 1,000-career point club, Callahan elected to transfer from North Dakota during semester break. He had to sit out the first semester of the 2008-09 season due to NCAA transfer rules, but played in all of the ensuing 21 games after becoming eligible, including a trio of starts.

Callahan’s perseverance and commitment to hard work were certainly factors in climbing out of his predicament. Hailing from a blue-collar upbringing with four brothers and two sisters, his father owned his own cement construction company and many times sons were called into action.

“Me and my brothers did that a whole lot,” he says. “It was very hard work. We even missed some school days helping him pour concrete.”

Callahan’s Jackrabbit debut was most memorable. On Dec. 21, 2009, at Northern Iowa, he came off the bench and led the Jacks with fourteen points and six rebounds in a loss. Two nights later at Iowa State, he earned a starting nod as SDSU posted a thrilling 65-58 victory over the Cyclones.

Callahan, a soft-spoken guy with a determined look, was on his way. After drawing three starting assignments in 30 games the following season, he started all 31 games as a junior averaging 8.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. His shooting touch was becoming evident, hitting 50 of 54 free throw attempts (.926) and 55 of 128 three-point field goal attempts (.430).

Not missing a start in 35 games, his senior campaign produced 10.4 points and 4.7 rebounds per contest. From long range, he nailed 77 three-pointers, eight short of the single-season school record.

“Griffan did a good job leading us,” cites Head Coach Scott Nagy. “But what didn’t come naturally to him was being vocal and he did a good job of being vocal when he needed to be.”

Nagy says there were qualities about Callahan that sometimes went unnoticed.

“What Griffan did, and most people didn’t always see it, was he made the big shot when we needed it. He kept us going early in the year until we took some of the pressure off, but he shot it well all year. He was a very good player and was probably our best defensive player, too. We will miss him.”

Doing internship

With basketball behind him, Callahan is setting his sights on a career path associated with his degree in consumer affairs. This summer, he will complete his degree requirements with an internship as a salesman for Midwest Machinery in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota, a company that manufactures John Deere equipment.

“If things go well, the people there said they would hire me on full time, so that’s what I’m looking at now,” he says.

For the coaching staff and fans, they are just mighty happy that Callahan eventually found his way to Jackrabbit Land—and even though he was on campus for nearly four full years—some good-natured ribbing sometimes surfaced.

“It was a long time ago, but I still got some static about it,” he says of the northern odyssey.” I’m glad I finally made the right decision, because my time here has been good. I’ve had a great experience.”

Kyle Johnson

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