Feb. 3, 2012
Four former Aggie men's basketball standouts in the past two seasons have moved on to play professionally, a notable achievement for a program that only gained NCAA Division I status in 2007-08. Dominic Calegari (2010), Mark Payne (2011), Todd Lowenthal (2011) and Joe Harden (2011) are playing in various places throughout the world. Mark Payne was profiled on Jan. 24. Now up is Dominic Calegari.
During his four-year playing career with UC Davis, the 6-foot-10 Calegari established himself as a major threat from both the inside and outside. He raised his scoring average every season, capping it during his senior season in 2009-10 when he averaged 16.6 ppg while canning 60 three-pointers and averaging 5.3 rpg. He was named to the All-Big West second team after that season and went on to play in the Reese's College All-Star Game at the NCAA Final Four. After playing overseas, Calegari returned to the United States where he was drafted in the fifth round of last fall's NBA Development League Draft.
By Sean Maraz
Athletics Communications Intern
Since leaving an impressive mark on UC Davis basketball, Dominic Calegari joined the Maine Red Claws in Portland, Maine, of the NBA's Development League. Calegari's adjustment to playing professional basketball in Maine has been a relatively easy process. "It is a pretty sweet gig. I haven't had to make too many adjustments compared to those playing overseas. Being in the States, even all the way on the complete opposite side of the country, is still like playing in my own backyard."
The biggest difference that Calegari faced when making the transition from college to professional basketball was the game itself. "There are a lot of differences. The 24-second shot clock makes for quicker possessions on both sides of the ball. But, the biggest difference is the turnover of players. It's very cut-throat. If you're playing badly or just not pleasing those who make the decisions you can be replaced in the blink of an eye."
The Red Claws have been struggling according to Calegari who explains, "We have the worst record in the league, but probably the best players." As a result, the team's general manager has recently been making numerous roster changes which has affected the team's chemistry. However, Caligari believes things are changing, "We are starting to figure things out, so I think we'll get it turned around pretty soon here."
The Red Claws may have had some struggles as of late, but Calegari who wears No. 44, has been playing consistently well. "I'm averaging 9 points and 7 rebounds. I feel like I'm not getting the amount of touches I'm used to, so I am trying to figure out other ways to contribute. My focus every game is on playing hard, competing, taking charges and rebounding."
While there are numerous changes between college and professional basketball, Calgari has learned to deal with the changes by continuously putting in the hard work to get the job done. Calegari explains that it is his hard work that has got him to the professional level and that he developed his work ethic while playing at UC Davis.
"It took me a while to really learn what hard work was," he said. "That being said, I am very grateful that I learned it while I was at UC Davis and could bring that knowledge and work ethic to this level. I want to be the best I can possibly be and it takes hard, long hours to make that a reality."
Calegari's work ethic is the basis for his belief that he will make it in the NBA. "Teams in the NBA already have their scorers," he said. "I need to get their attention by being a solid teammate and a role player, so this is a good opportunity to work on that aspect of my game, as tough as it is to take a back seat to the scoring aspect of the game."
Calegari says that what he misses most about playing college basketball at UC Davis are his teammates, and advises current UCD basketball players to "cherish these moments." However, he acknowledges that, "It's hard to live in the moment and truly cherish what you are doing until you are gone and realize how amazing it really was."
He advises current players to, "Work hard, but enjoy the work, and enjoy your time with your teammates, coaches, and friends. It's no joke when I say college was the best five years of my life. And every one of my teammates here say the same thing."