VALRICO — Callum Townsend enjoys proving people wrong.
After his freshman season at Bloomingdale, naysayers said he could shoot only from the outside, so he took his game into the paint and continued to score.
A year later, when some said he was too slow, he worked on his quickness and ended up the county scoring leader the following season.
After Townsend tore the ACL in his right knee in March, doctors said he needed up to nine months of rehabilitation. Less than six months later, he was back on the court.
"People are always telling me what I can't do," Townsend said.
Always, it seems, he is proving them wrong. And it's no secret why.
"His physical therapist told me he's never seen a high school kid with his type of work ethic," Bulls coach Josh Chapin said. After the injury "the kid did everything there was as far as rehab. They actually had to turn him away because he was showing up so often."
Townsend, a 6-foot-6 small forward and four-year starter, enters the stretch run of his high school career with more than 1,500 career points, making him one of the area's most prolific scorers this decade.
As a junior, he averaged 27 points and was a first-team all-county pick. This season, his scoring numbers are down slightly (24.3), but that's largely because the Bulls (12-2) have another scoring option in senior point guard Joe Raga. Townsend is shooting better than 50 percent from the field and grabbing a team-best 10.2 boards a game.
"Honestly, I think I'm playing better," Townsend said.
In a way, last year's injury helped.
Before it, Townsend was known as "the chubby kid" on the team, Chapin said. But after working hard on his legs with pool and bike work, Townsend reshaped his body. Today, he says he jumps higher than before blowing out his knee, even though he plays with a brace.
"He's moving better now," Chapin said.
Townsend holds a scholarship offer from Boston University and has interest from schools such as Jacksonville and Stetson, but more than a few schools were skeptical after the injury. Most of them, he knows, probably figured his play would suffer.
Not surprisingly, Townsend has proved them wrong.
"I wanted to show the colleges I'm back," he said. "I'm tons better, and mentally stronger. This was not an easy thing to deal with."