Mary Persons standout leaving her mark on the Mercer women’s basketball program

Mercer guard, Keke Calloway celebrates on Senior night with her family. The former Mary Persons stand out is hoping to capture another title before the end of her career at Mercer.
Mercer guard, Keke Calloway celebrates on Senior night with her family. The former Mary Persons stand out is hoping to capture another title before the end of her career at Mercer.

She sized up the hoop, ran full force and threw it down with authority.

This was one of KeKe Calloway’s first memories of playing basketball on her Fisher Price basketball goal her dad got for her.

“I can just remember wanting to play on that with him every day,” she said. “My relationship with my dad really initiated my love for the game.”

The former Mary Persons stand out from Forsyth, Ga., is now preparing for her final games as a member of the Mercer women’s basketball team.

She has put together a career at Mercer as one of the best to ever come through the school.

This year she was named Co-Player of the Year in the Southern Conference alongside her teammate and fellow senior Amanda Thompson.

Calloway also holds the NCAA record for most 3-pointers made in a game with 12 when she scored a career high 40 during her junior year against conference foe Furman.

Over the last four years, Calloway’s been able to play in front of her hometown fans and has soaked it in as much as possible.

“Ever since freshman year, every home game I’ve seen at least one person from Forsyth in the stands,” she said. “That has just meant a lot to have that hometown support.”

While at Mary Persons, Calloway was able to lead the Bulldogs to three straight region titles. It’s what had head coach Susie Gardner wanting to make the drive up to Forsyth to see what all the hype was about.

“You realize she is 20 minutes up the road and you start going to Mary Persons High School as much as the NCAA allows,” she said. “I knew she was a special basketball talent, that was obvious.”

Gardner would eventually offer Calloway a spot on the team. Despite her talent and ability to start right away, she asked her coach to allow her to come off the bench.

“She told me she didn’t want to start. She told me she wanted to get a feel for the game,” Gardner said. “It caught me off guard. I’ve never had a great player that didn’t want to start.”

After coming off the bench her freshman year, Calloway started 13 games her sophomore year before starting all but one game her junior year.

Since the start of her third season at Mercer, the Bears haven’t lost a SoCon game and Calloway has been a big reason why.

“KeKe just has great, great passion for the game,” Gardner said. “She has done what is best for our team and our program this year and it’s led to an undefeated season and I think she has grown as a player and a leader as well.”

As a Bear, she has been one of the best 3-pointer shooters in the country. As a junior, she broke the Mercer single-season record with 99 3-pointers.

Calloway credits her dad with helping her learn the best techniques to shoot the basketball.

“I wouldn’t say he is a better shooter than me but he is a pretty good shooter,” she said. “So him teaching me the mechanics of shooting is a big part of my success.”

While Calloway worked hard to hone her craft, she also comes from an athletic family.

Her cousin is Malik Herring, a former Mary Persons Bulldog and current University of Georgia defensive end. The pair grew up playing together alongside Herring’s older brother Tevin and other family members.

This led to intense pick-up games that helped Calloway develop a competitive edge and a sense of toughness.

“Growing up we definitely had a couple family basketball games,” Calloway said. “It‘s all fun and games but at the end of the day you really, really want to win.”

With her career winding down at Mercer, Calloway is hoping to go out on a high note and then start looking toward the future.

“I hope to get the opportunity to play professionally,” she said. “If I don’t then I will be graduating in May with a Bachelors of Science in Biology so I one day will pursue a medical career.”

Justin Baxley is the fan life reporter at The Telegraph and writes stories centered around entertainment, food and sports in the Macon community. Justin joined the Telegraph staff after graduating from Mercer University in May 2017 with a degree in criminal justice and journalism. During his time at Mercer he served as the sports editor for The Cluster.