A cut above the rest

YSU freshman finding a niche

YOUNGSTOWN — John Sally Sr. had one stipulation when he dropped off his son, John Jr., at Youngstown State University.

The elder Sally, who is a chief warrant officer five in the U.S. Army, told YSU men’s basketball coach Jerrod Calhoun his son had to have a weekly haircut.

The younger Sally convinced his father to change it to every two weeks.

“He’s been kind of lenient on it,” said the 6-foot-11, 250-pound center from Disputanta, Va.

He pushed the limits too far recently.

“Last time I got a haircut was (two weeks ago),” Sally Jr. said. “I didn’t have a haircut before that for three or four weeks. He was pretty mad about that.”

Being from a military family, Sally Jr. looks people in the eye when he speaks to them, one of several attributes the Penguins appreciate.

Calhoun noticed Sally was very cerebral, which partly explains why he’s a computer science major.

YSU associated head coach Bobby Steinberg, who works with the Penguins’ post players, recruited Sally out of Benedictine College Prep when he was a Kent State University assistant coach.

Sally has long arms and great upside. Practices have went well, and the Virginia resident hopes to contribute to the Penguins up-tempo offense and pressure defense.

Calhoun said he may redshirt this season to get more familiar with the speed of the game.

“I end up finding myself getting in when we run diamond because that’s all the way in the back end,” Sally said. “I might be able to steal the ball or tip it. I need to get faster, definitely. I need to work on my offense because it’s kind of lacking compared to everybody else.”

Sally isn’t frustrated by the situation.

He’s determined to get better every day, something he learned from his father.

“He inspired me to do everything 100 percent,” Sally said. “You just can’t go at it below 100 percent, or it’s not going to turn out well.”

Calhoun sees his four to five-year plan for Sally working out for YSU.

“He’s a young man that is going to help us down his line,” Calhoun said.

For now, Sally is taming his facial hair. His father told him to keep it trimmed, which meant the sideburns were cut down. He’s got a thin beard with a mustache.

“He wants me to keep up with the mustache, makes sure it doesn’t get all crazy like James Harden’s beard — all the way out there,” Sally said.