There are 413 schools that play Division III men’s college basketball, and each team has an average roster of about 15 players. That means there are about 6,195 players in Division III, and Brian Cameron of Wesley College is averaging more points per game than 6,193 of them.
Cameron is scoring 28.5 points per game, and in the entire nation only Eric Demers of Gordon College in Massachusetts (33.9 points per game) and Marcus Dempsey of Muskingum in Ohio (31.0) are averaging more.
Cameron is also listed on the first 100 watch for the Bevo Francis Award, given annually to the top player in the country in Division II, Division III and the NAIA.
And what makes Cameron’s journey so remarkable is how badly it started, and how one of the worst years of his life became one of the best years of his life.
“I never imagined things would work out the way they did,” Cameron said. “It just shows that if you work hard and have faith, anything can happen.”
Cameron, a 6-foot-1 guard, was a star player at Delaware Military Academy, but he didn’t have a bunch of college scholarship offers after graduation. So, unsure of his future, Cameron took a year off from school and basketball. He attended Ocean County (N.J.) Junior College for a while, but he didn’t hit if off with his coach and quickly left and came home to Newark.
“It was hard, not playing competitive basketball and being away from the game I love,” Cameron said. “But it really was the best thing that could have happened at that time. I got to sit back and think about things and what I wanted to do with my life. That year off really matured me.”
Meanwhile, he was being recruited by Dean Burrows, the coach of Wesley College, and Cameron finally decided to give the home-state school a try. And that ended up being a decision that changed to course of his life.
“I really felt that my relationship with the coaches was genuine and they weren’t just about basketball,” Cameron said of his decision to give Wesley a shot. “They wanted to help me with classes and my personal life, too. They were interested in me as a person and not just as a basketball player.”
Cameron was an immediate star at Wesley – he was the rookie of the year in the Atlantic East Conference — and now, as a senior, he’s led Wesley to a 10-7 record, including 4-0 in the conference.
“He’s just a gamer,” said Burrows, a former star player at Salesianum School. “Brian just loves the game of basketball and he’s always trying to get better – he’s a gym rat. Anybody can see the talent, but there’s also this competitor at the bottom of it. He’s our leading scorer, obviously, but he’s also somebody who prides himself on doing the little things that make our team better, like rebounding and diving on the floor for loose balls.
“And that makes him a great example for our younger players,” Burrows added. “When your best player is also your hardest worker, that makes my job a lot easier.”
But Cameron isn’t a rah-rah leader. The vocal leader on the team is fellow senior Terrence Braxton from Caesar Rodney High, while the naturally-quiet Burrows prefers to lead by example.
“I do talk to the younger players,” Cameron said. “But that’s mostly to tell them the little things, like making sure they hustle and play defense. I tell them that if they want to get on the court, they have to play both ends of the floor. That’s what the coaches emphasized to me when I first got here, and now I emphasize that to them.”
With his senior season coming to an end in a couple of months, Cameron is looking to the future. He knows there are no 6-1 players from Division III playing in the NBA, but he would like to keep playing the game he loves.
“I definitely want to play overseas, and I’ve talked to my coaches and parents about potentially playing over there,” he said. “It’s certainly something I’d consider. I’m already doing research and looking at videos of what life is like over there. That would be a dream come true.
“But that’s down the road. Right now, I’m just focused on finishing my career at Wesley on a good note. We’ve gotten off to a great start in the conference and we want to build on that. It’s been a great ride so far, and I want it to last as long as possible.”
By the way – in case you were wondering who Bevo Francis was – he was a star player for Rio Grande College in the early 1950s who averaged an NCAA-record 48 points per game in 1953. That included two games when he scored more than 100 points.