Our player profiles series turns to the returning players today, beginning with sophomore forward Reggie Cameron. After predictably struggling to adapt to the college game as a freshman, can Cameron reliably contribute in year two?
13.3 min pg, 3.8 pts pg, 1.3 rpg, 36.2 FG%, 32.1 3FG%
Cameron arrived as the lone recruit in Georgetown's 2013 class, ranked between 60th and 100th nationally by most accounts. Based both on this numerical estimation and Cameron's specific blend of strength and weaknesses, the New Jersey product projected as a solid four-year player but not a star from day one. Cameron looked like he'd be able to shoot right away but perhaps would be unable to do much else at a college level.
Cameron largely conformed to freshman-year expectations, albeit in a somewhat larger role than initially expected. The good news is that Cameron can shoot, although he showed more volume than efficiency from deep last season. As a rookie, he jacked up nearly 2.5 three-point attempts per game, and connected on 2 or more triples in 8 different games. Cameron wasn't shy and, for much of the season, shot whenever he was open.
The bad news is that he struggled against better competition, connecting on just 26 percent of his threes during conference play. There are plenty of possible reasons for this, the most obvious being that Cameron just wasn't as open against better defenders as he had been against low- and mid-majors. Also, Cameron wasn't in ideal physical condition last season and perhaps was not ready for the speed of college games; tired legs beget wayward shooting and also encourage hard closeouts from defenders who aren't afraid of a blow-by off the dribble.
Whatever the reasons, Cameron still shot 32 percent from three over the course of the season, a perfectly respectable number for a well-rounded freshman but not particularly impressive for a budding sniper. And Cameron did not show much potential other than as a shooter. He rarely strayed inside the arc on offense, attempting far more three-pointers (78) than two-pointers (38) and free throws (18) combined. He notched fewer assists than turnovers, and rarely crashed the offensive glass. Cameron was a liability defensively, both too slow to guard the perimeter and not big or strong enough to defend the post.
These struggles require some context. Georgetown was thin on the wing last year, and Cameron was pressed into service because teammates got injured (Jabril Trawick), didn't develop their own outside shot (Stephen Domingo), or were similarly unreliable (Aaron Bowen). Cameron's struggles against stiffer competition coincided with the absence of Joshua Smith down low; Smith's gravitational pull in the post may have opened space around the perimeter, including for Cameron's open threes.
Finally, freshmen commonly struggle to adapt to college play, especially as shooters. At last week's media day, Cameron conceded that he struggled saying, "Oh man, I am a lot more comfortable. Last year, you know, I kind of had ants in my pants. I was moving too fast, I was nervous sometimes." Bigger defenders, faster play, and a slightly longer three-point line all can take some adjustment.
Unfortunately, Cameron's play in Kenner League didn't suggest that a sophomore leap is coming up. Cameron had a couple of nice games where he connected from deep and contributed on the glass, but he largely struggled with his stroke and got torched defensively. Making too much of a small, disorganized summer league sample is both foolish and an annual tradition in these parts. Even so, what we saw of Cameron wasn't encouraging.
There's some reason to expect Cameron will improve in year two, but how much opportunity will he have to do so? Unlike last year, when Cameron played extended minutes by necessity, JT3 will have many more options this season. Paul White and Isaac Copeland are promising freshmen who can contribute in more diverse ways offensively than Cameron and look to be far better defenders and rebounders. Despite a shaky outside shot, Bowen posted a higher overall shooting percentage (regular and eFG) than Cameron last season and is a better rebounder and defender. And Trawick and Mikael Hopkins likely will eat up some of the forward minutes when the Hoyas shift to smaller or larger lineups, as the case may be. (Cue JT3's "lots of ways to skin a cat" quote).
Still, Cameron is the most likely Hoya, other than D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, to shoot a high percentage from three this season. Georgetown will need some floor spacing to open things up for DSR and Smith, and if Cameron can connect from deep, he'll keep a spot in the rotation.
Cameron makes a predictable sophomore-year improvement, drilling around 40 percent of his threes and requiring a prescription for custom-made three goggles. He rebounds well enough to justify keeping him on the court for reasons other than his shooting, and develops enough of a one-dribble, step-in jumper to keep defenders from closing out too aggressively. He can hold his own on defense, particularly when paired with Hopkins at center and either Copeland or Bowen at the other forward position.
Cameron struggles again to get his shot off and doesn't contribute in any other aspect of the game. His three-point percentage dips below 30 percent, he remains flammable on defense, he can't hold position on the boards, and he quickly is surpassed by the freshmen forwards. Cameron toils at the end of the bench, only seeing extended run in blowouts.