Former UNO star Bo McCalebb gives back to basketball program _lowres

New Orleans guard Bo McCalebb jumps over the Alcorn State defense for a shot during a Gulf Coast Classic basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 19 2007, in Biloxi, Miss. (AP Photo/The Sun Herald, Amanda McCoy)

Bo McCalebb has never been a man of many words.

But the former UNO guard made a major statement Tuesday when he came back to the school to help unveil new floors in the team’s practice gym that he helped fund with a recent gift to the university.

“I was born and raised here and one of the few to stay and go to college in my hometown,” the former O. Perry Walker standout said at Tuesday’s ceremony.

“I had fun here through the good and the bad, before (Hurricane) Katrina and after Katrina. I feel like without coming here, I wouldn’t be the man or player I am today.”

McCalebb said that UNO’s current coach Mark Slessinger — who didn’t arrive at UNO until after he graduated — reached out to him and asked if he would want to be a part of the project to refurbish the practice floors at the Lakefront Arena. McCalebb immediately accepted.

In his typical unassuming fashion, McCalebb said that neither a ceremony to celebrate his donation nor a commemorative signature on the floor was necessary, but Slessinger insisted.

The UNO coach said that it was important for him to celebrate McCalebb and all he has done for the university, on and off the court.

“Here at UNO, the first thing that comes to mind is that this is a university of the city and for the people.

“There’s no better example of that than Bo,” Slessinger said. “You look at where he’s come from on the Westbank and the challenges and the obstacles that he’s overcome to become a success not only in the professional world but the personal world.

“It’s an incredible accomplishment for him.”

McCalebb’s 2,679 career points while at UNO from 2003-08 remains No. 1 among the school’s all-time leading scorers as well No. 1 in Sun Belt Conference history.

Since graduating from UNO, McCalebb has gone on to play eight years of professional basketball in various European leagues, and most notably led the Euroleague in scoring during the 2011-12 season and helped lead Macedonia’s national team to a fourth-place finish in the 2011 FIBA Eurobasket tournament.

“When I came in here this morning at 9:30 a.m., he’s in here running wind sprints by himself,” Slessinger said. “You want to know why a guy like that is successful, well there’s your answer.”

Some of the other additions on the new practice floor include new word marks and logos throughout the gym, as well as a McCalebb’s signature by one of the court’s with “Thanks UNO” written above it.

“I just wanted to show how much I care, because without this school I probably wouldn’t be where I am today,” McCalebb said. “That’s all I’ve got to say.”

He didn’t say much, but his message came through loud and clear.