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Friday, December 14, 2012
Cameron could be next year's Stauskas

By Adam Finkelstein

Michigan swingman Nik Stauskas is one of the most pleasant freshman surprises in college basketball so far this season.

Ten games into his college basketball career, Stauskas cracked the starting lineup of a consensus top-five team. Now he’s averaging 29.1 minutes and 13.5 points per game while shooting .519 from the field, .587 from the 3-point line and .897 from the free throw line.

Nik Stauskas
Freshman Nik Stauskas is getting valuable starting minutes with Michigan but didn't crack the top 50 of the ESPN 100 last year.
Stauskas is one of the most impactful freshman in all of college basketball, but only eight months ago he finished his high school career as the 76th-ranked prospect in the 2012 ESPN 100.

Looking forward to the Class of 2013, there is a player who could be in a similar position next year. Like Stauskas, Reggie Cameron (Paterson, N.J./Hudson Catholic) is an exceptional long distance shooter who is equally accurate making tough pull-up jumpers off the dribble. He has a high basketball IQ, is an underrated passer and is supremely confident in his ability to shoot.

Cameron is currently the 68th-ranked prospect in the ESPN 100 and signed with Georgetown. As with Stauskas, Cameron has a real opportunity to contribute early with the Hoyas.

So where is the disconnect in the high school player rankings?

It’s surely possible that we underestimated Stauskas. Certainly we knew he was an excellent shooter, but no one was predicting him to be just shy of 60 percent from the 3-point line nearly halfway through his freshman campaign.

In retrospect, perhaps one area where we should have put more value was in Stauskas’ unwavering confidence. It’s been that mindset that has allowed him to carve out a bigger role for himself on a virtually daily basis since arriving at Michigan.

But more than anything else, Stauskas’ production since arriving in Ann Arbor is in direct correlation with the quality of the “fit.”

Fit is a bit of taboo word in recruiting circles. It is overused and can represent a variety of things, but every once in a while you find a prospect who has it figured out.

Cameron
Georgetown could use Reggie Cameron to fill the slot of sharp-shooting big man.
In Stauskas’ case, the fit centers around style of play, opportunity and coaching style. To be more specific, John Beilein is a coach who values the special skills Stauskas brings to the table and the coach runs a system (his two-guard offense) that puts an emphasis on those things. Moreover, the personnel of Michigan’s team couldn’t be scripted any better for Stauskas. The roster presented an opportunity for immediate playing time but at the same time the presence of other playmaking guards. Sophomore Trey Burke and fellow freshman Tim Hardaway Jr. give Stauskas the advantage of not being the primary concern of opposing defenses.

Now to determine the importance of this fit in Stauskas’ early productivity, the central question is whether he would be having the same impact elsewhere. He’s obviously talented enough to make his presence felt no matter where he decided to go to school, but he has undoubtedly benefited from the special circumstances that play to his favor at Michigan.

While John Thompson III’s system at Georgetown isn’t the same as Beilein’s, there are similarities between the Princeton style offense that Thompson runs and Beilein’s two-guard offense. Both put a premium on floor spacing, and consequently value perimeter shooting. Both emphasize passing, cutting, ball movement and reading the defense.

From a personnel standpoint, Georgetown has a young team and should return all five starters next season. Nevertheless, a sharp-shooting stretch forward is a vacant role on this year’s team and a spot where Cameron fits. Greg Whittington was supposed to play the part, but while he’s leading the team in 3-point attempts, he’s converting just 23.7 percent of those attempts.
In other words, Georgetown has a definite need for the special skill that Cameron can provide. Like Stauskas, his niche will earn him plenty of early minutes while the return of an otherwise veteran lineup will ensure that he won’t need to try to do too much.

While we watch Stauskas continue to thrive during his freshman season at Michigan, chances are pretty good we could see a similar story with Cameron next year at Georgetown.