Erica McCall doesn’t remember a time in her life without basketball. For Stanford’s senior captain, the game isn’t just what she does, but it’s also who she is—as much a part of her blood and muscle as her family history.
McCall, a standout forward for the 10th-ranked Cardinal (15–3), is one of four hoopsters in her immediate family. Her father, Greg, was the team captain on the 1991 Cal State Bakersfield squad that made it all the way to the Division II Final Four and has spent the two decades since coaching. He is now in his sixth season at the helm of his alma mater’s women’s basketball program.
“It was a lot of fun growing up in a basketball family and very competitive,” McCall told Excelle Sports. “The experience that my dad had with basketball helped shape the player that I am today.”
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McCall’s two siblings are also basketball stars, thanks largely to their father’s help and the family’s good genes. McCall’s older sister, DeWanna Bonner, has played for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury since graduating from Auburn and going as the fifth overall pick in the 2009 WNBA draft. The pair’s younger brother, Justin McCall, is currently a high school senior who is signed to play college basketball next season at Cal State Bakersfield.
“It’s just a special bond with [my children] because of basketball,” Greg told Excelle Sports. “They’ve allowed me to teach them and I’ve always told them to follow in each other’s footsteps.”
McCall, who leads Stanford with 16.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game this season, has a different role on the court than her kin—a distinction that she believes has helped her forge her own path as a basketball player.
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“All my family members are guards,” said McCall, who is one of five Pac-12 women’s basketball players included on the John R. Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 list. “I’m the only post player in my family, so that has helped me to build my own kind of path and just build my own history.”
While she is determined to leave her own legacy on the court, McCall is still very close to her basketball birthright. She calls her family her source of inspiration and motivation, particularly citing her sister—a three-time WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year and two-time WNBA champion—as the gold standard of what she one day hopes to become as a player.
“Watching my sister play and seeing all the great things that she was doing on the court just really inspired me to work hard and want to be a WNBA player as well,” said McCall, adding that she has dreamed of playing in the WNBA since she was in the seventh grade. “She has not only helped me mimic her work ethic, but also helped me build my own.”
For McCall, her WNBA dream could actually become reality in April when the WNBA draft takes place. The player was listed in November on the WNBA’s short list of top seniors in the class of 2017 and is expected to be an early-round pick.
“She has a really high ceiling,” Greg said. “This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the things she will be able to do and accomplish.”
But before McCall takes the next step in her basketball career, she has another goal at the forefront of her mind: a second trip to the Final Four to follow up her last appearance there in 2014 as a freshman.
“Having a little taste of [the Final Four] really has inspired me to get back there,” McCall said. “And I think we have a really good shot at going back this year.”