Cameron men face tough road schedule
Nate Gamet figures it won't take long to measure the worth of his Cameron University men's basketball team.
The young Aggie skipper will take his charges on the road for eight of their first nine games. They only play three times in Lawton before embarking on the difficult Lone Star Conference schedule. His youngsters are picked to finish sixth in that eight-team league.
His 17-player roster includes four who started games during last year's 13-15 season.
Deondre Ray, a 6-5 senior from Fort Worth, started 23 games and averaged 14 points and 4.3 rebounds.
Jamaal Brantley, a 6-6 senior from Columbia, S.C., had 23 starts and averaged 12.4 points and 5.2 boards.
Cameron Lee, a 6-3 senior from Columbia, started five times and averaged 10 points and 1.8 rebounds.
James Cross, a 6-8 sophomore from Lawton Eisenhower, started 11 times and had 1.3 and 2.0 averages.
Also returning is JV Long, a 6-1 point guard who played just seven games his first year on campus and zero in Year Two because of injuries.
Delvonte Pierre, a 6-4 junior guard from Lawton High and Seminole Junior College, learned Gamet's system while redshirting last season.
Gamet, a product of Princeton, Mo., and Northwest Missouri State University, isn't complaining.
"We have 17 guys this year," Gamet told Cameron fans assembled at a mixer Tuesday at the Apache Hotel. "It's the biggest number we've had in a while.
"We really wanted to go out and get some depth. That's been the biggest thing we've struggled with the last few years.
"Our top five, I think, would be comparable to teams in our league. Once we got to six, seven, eight, you could see significant drop-off. That's where we really tried to focus our attention this year."
Gamet also sought out players who are not familiar with the Lone Star Conference.
"Right now, I like it," he said. "Ask me again in a couple months and we'll see, but we tried to focus in on guys that fit us high-character kids that fit what we wanted. They may not have been the most talented, but they had a fit and they wanted to be here.
"So far, things have been really good. We'll see."
Gamet also has a new assistant. Andrew Brown moves into that position after serving as head coach at Northwestern Oklahoma State.
Jarod Lyons has joined the Ags as graduate assistant.
Gamet offered these profiles of his players:
"JV is going on his junior year at Cameron. He's an extremely smart kid, just wanted to be at Cameron and wanted to play basketball. He had a full academic ride to Baylor coming out of high school. He redshirted for us with a medical hardship Year One. Last year, he tore his ACL before the season started. He probably would have been our starting point guard over the two D1 transfers that we had. Knock on wood, he has been healthy and he will be our starter.
"Delvonte Pierre ñ everybody calls him DP. You will never hear anybody call our guys by their real names. He's a Lawton kid, played at Lawton High, went to (Missouri) West Plains with Drew Richard, who was our first assistant here, played really well and then transferred to Seminole. He came to us last year and felt like he needed to redshirt. He's come in and done a really good job. Extremely streaky shooter. He can come in and hit 10 or 12 in a row.
"Tyus Momoh (5-11 freshman guard, Grand Prairie). He went to the same high school as JV. Those kids come from a great program and they work extremely hard. He's going to come in and back up JV at the point guard. Three or four years down the line, he may surpass JV. He's just a little bit quicker and a little more natural ability, but JV's basketball IQ is off the charts. If Momoh can get caught up to that level, he'll have a chance to play quite a bit.
"Christian Crockett (6-6 senior from Houston) is our only D1 transfer this year (Tennessee State). He played at Odessa in the Western Juco Athletic Conference. I believe they are one of the top conferences in junior college. He has a chance to be really, really good. He's going to be competing with Jamaal for a spot. He's trying to figure out the system, see where he fits in. It's the same thing Jamaal did last year. He eventually bought in to playing the 4 (power forward), embraced it and took off with it. If Christian will do the same thing, he has a chance to be really good.
"Deondre Ray is extremely athletic, extremely thin. He had 18 points on nine shots when we played UTEP. He just fills it up. The best thing about him is we don't have to run a play for him. That's why he's so valuable.
"Cameron Lee is a lefty. At one point last year, he was top five in the country in three-point field goal percentage. He finished the year 48 (percent). Defensively, he's OK, he's gotten better. Offensively, he has the green light to shoot it anywhere, any time, I don't care. Please do not yell at him 'do not shoot that shot'. He has my permission.
"De'onte Menefee (6-8 sophomore, Lawton Eisenhower, Seminole State). He's my walk-on this year. Usually we have about 15 to 20 walk in who are shorter than I am that want to try out. I tell them I think we're full. He came walking in and I remembered him from high school. He was like 'I want to walk on'. I was like 'I think we have a spot'. We'll make it work. He had an injury the first eight weeks and didn't get cleared until the day we started practice, so he's behind everybody. Once he gets caught up, he's probably our most skilled post.
"Jamaal is probably our most skilled overall returner. He's really a good player, does a little bit of everything. He's trying right now to get used to playing with a bunch of new people. Last year, everyone kinda deferred to him a lot. This year, we have enough guys who can score it that he's not getting as many touches as he wants ñ or I want right now. We're just trying to get the process figured out. He's going to be one of the top guys in the league.