Horizon Honors senior guard Stephen Delgado-McCollum knew he was close to breaking the school basketball career-scoring record.
“I was told before the season that we were going to start looking at point totals,” said Delgado-McCollum, a senior.
He went over the top on Dec. 29, with 14 points in the Eagles’ loss to Wickenburg.
He didn’t realize what he had done until a pep assembly in front of the student body a couple of weeks later when he was surprised with a custom basketball.
Delgado-McCollum finished his career last month with 1,431 points, shattering the old record of 1,256.
“It was a sigh of relief,” Delgado-McCollum said. “I had certain goals coming into the year and that was one that I could check off my list. I wanted to be the leading scorer.”
Despite being surprised, he really is good in math. And government. In fact, he’s on the verge of scoring big points in those subjects that likely will end his competitive basketball playing days.
In January, he applied for admission to Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He has aspirations of joining the school’s government program while minoring in math. He expects to learn in April if he is accepted.
If his plans to attend Georgetown fall through, he will study Actuarial Sciences at Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University.
He believes that he may return to the basketball court as a coach in the future, following in the footsteps of his brother, Ben, who is the head coach at Northwest Missouri State – the top-ranked NCAA Division II team.
“My brother taught me that if I don’t have a passion for the game like I do for other things, then I’m not going to be as successful as I can be,” Delgado-McCollum said. “I just love math and government, so I’m focusing on that first.”
Delgado-McCollum broke the school scoring record held by Taylor Hudzinski, who played at Horizon Honors from 2008-12.
Hudzinski was a substitute librarian when Delgado-McCollum was in eighth grade. The two frequently talked about basketball and what Hudzinski had accomplished as an Eagle.
When it was time for Delgado-McCollum to enroll in ninth grade, he decided to attend Brophy Prep. He quickly realized that was a mistake for him.
“I didn’t do summer ball or anything before going to Brophy,” Delgado-McCollum said. “I came in thinking I would be one of the best but I wasn’t able to separate myself. It was a hard lesson to learn but it allowed me to take a step back and get better.”
Delgado-McCollum was asked to take an alternate role in the Brophy program, a position he described as having more of a “team manager” feel. He figured he wouldn’t get playing time for the Broncos and would be on the verge of getting cut from the team the next year.
He transferred to Horizon Honors the second semester of his freshman year and began playing club basketball to enhance his skills.
He and Hudzinski, who recently received a full-time teaching position at Horizon Honors, again struck up conversation about basketball. This time, it was all about Delgado-McCollum’s accomplishment.
“He congratulated me and told me it was ironic because I was one of the few kids he met that was so young compared to him at the time,” Delgado-McCollum said. “It was funny because we knew each other in the past and didn’t realize our paths would cross like this again.”
Horizon Honors went 12-16 and missed the 3A state playoffs.
Delgado-McCollum, however, plans to be back on court for the Eagles in the spring, as a member of the boys volleyball team, and then his athletics career will be put on hold following his graduation in May.
Delgado-McCollum said he learned a lot during his time at Horizon Honors, mostly that hard work and dedication truly pay off. Transferring in was one of the best decisions he could have made, he said, as it opened opportunities on and off the court.
“Don’t confine yourself to just one thing,” Delgado-McCollum said. “High school is one of your last opportunities to explore and really find who you are. Whether it’s sports or academics, make sure to try everything.
“Don’t pigeonhole yourself in high school.”