Somestimes all it takes is playing against 1 team in your life that will take care of the most important basketball stories that you will ever be able to tell your grandchildren. It was December 31st and no matter how 2021 had gone for Cameron McGriff (201-F-1997, college: OK State), he definitely closed out the year in tremendous fashion. Only a little bit more than 7 months earlier, he had closed out his rookie season in Belgium being swept by Limburg, but now as 2022 was about to begin, the Texas native was in the Staple center in Los Angeles and within only a few feet of him on the court, legends left and right with Lebron James, Dwight Howard, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony. This would be his last game in the NBA for now as it would only be 3, but on this evening, despite losing by 33 and seeing a 43 point masterpiece by Lebron James, the forward was in basketball heaven and will never forget the 14 minutes on the court and 7 points and 5 boards that he produced. ‘I didn’t have any small talk with any of the Lakers. I was the new guy in town. I didn’t know anybody. I guess there was a little bit of chat here and there. Melo said what’s up young fella at the free throw line. It is nothing out of the norm how I would approach any other game. The Lebron performance was like a welcome to the NBA moment. When I got in the game in the third quarter, he already had like 30 points. Seeing his game up close and personal is exactly as advertised through the TV and video games growing up. He was a beast that night and tough to stop him. I had the opportunity to guard him and he scored a few buckets. I can tell my kids when I get older’, laughed Cameron Mcgriff. He will never forget being able to guard Lebron James and hear what’s up young fella from Carmelo Anthony at the free throw line.
Cameron McGriff who lists Thomas, Dziagwa, Lindy Waters Isaac Likekele Jalen Cruther, and the entire AEK team as his best teammates of all-time so far in his career was born on September.30th, 1997 in Grand Prairie, Texas. As a kid he enjoyed playing flag football, but soon as he began to grow immensely took up basketball and could dunk by sixth grade. He got his first basketball experience at South Grand Prairie High School averaging 14,3ppg and 7,4rpg as a senior. He was ranked as the 10th best recruit in Texas by ESPN. He then chose to attend Oklahoma State to further his game. He balled at Oklahoma State from 2016-2020 and played a total of 130 NCAA games. He was able to improve his game dramatically from his freshman year to his sophomore year averaging 3.8ppg, 3.1rpg as a freshman and in his second year averaged 8.5ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 53.0%, 3PT: 35.7%, FT: 86.0%. Taking 1000 shots a day was instrumental in his game really moving along at a fine pace. ‘It helped my game develop. My percentages were raised between my first two seasons. I became a hard worker at the end of the day. Working hard has helped me become the player I am today and that is what I hang my hat on day in and day out. I always have been the first and last to leave from the gym. That has got me to the point I am today’, warned Cameron McGriff. He really stepped up his game in his last 2 seasons demonstrating what consistency is all about averaging 12.4ppg, 7.4rpg, 1.7apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 43.5%, 3PT: 29.8%, FT: 76.7% and as a senior averaged 12.3ppg, 6.6rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 51.5%, 3PT: 30.8%, FT: 83.2%. His biggest achievement there was reaching the NIT Elite 8. ‘It was great going to school there. I played in the NCAA tournament, got far in the NIT, played against rivals, and playing against many great players was great. In the NIT we played against a few guys we may see like Justin Johnosn in the BCL and other guys. It’s always great playing in the post season’, remembered Cameron McGriff. In his last 2 seasons, he played 64 NCAA games and scored in double figures in 44 games. His best scoring games occurred against Oklahoma and LSU where he hit both for 28 points apiece. He got a Big 12 honorable mention in his senior year. Especially beating the school’s huge rival Oklahoma and scoring 28 points was a big career highlight.’ This was the last game. There is so much history and it is a huge rivalry. The state lives for the rivalry. It was my senior year and we played against a pretty good Oklahoma team. It matched my career best. I went out with a bang and there wasn’t a better feeling than that. That was probably my best game in the NCAA especially with the energy around it. It is a moment I will never forget’, stressed Cameron McGriff. All the extra hours of grinding in the lab was monumental for his development, but so was head coach Michael Boynton. ‘He groomed me as a player but also as a man in this world. He told me where ever I go hard work will always help you. That always stuck with me. He led by example. He was one of the hardest workers as a coach that I have known. Even when I met him he was an assistant coach, but he worked his tail off to become a head coach’, stated Cameron McGriff. He also has a huge smile recounting his battles with current Oklahoma Thunder Lindy Waters in practice at Oklahoma State. ‘I let you ask him about who won. There wasn’t much competing back then since we played different positions. My game has evolved so I can play the 3-5. He can come into the paint with me and I can go out on the perimeter with him. We made each other better and I’m really happy with the success he is having with the Thunder’, added Cameron McGriff.
The athletic forward who lists Trae Young, Dean Wade and Jonathan Motley as his toughest opponents in the NCAA played his rookie season in Belgium with Okapi Aalst (Belgium-Euromillions League) averaging 13.5ppg, 5.0rpg, 1.3apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 56.5%, 3PT: 35.6%, FT: 89.6%. Every American has that wake up call to being overseas for the first time and it wasn’t any different with him. Being in the middle of Covid didn’t make it difficult reciting that wake up call. ‘It was tough my rookie season. Plus it was the year of COVID. Being in a closed off country where I couldn’t experience the atmosphere of being somewhere else wasn’t easy. It was like being locked in a room and just going to the gym every day. It made me a solder. If I can overcome that I can overcome anything. I had some tough hardships. It was a long 9-10 months. But I was able to focus on basketball and it helped me make a big jump which has helped me get to where I am today’, expressed Cameron McGriff. He scored in double figures in 21 of 27 games and had a 26 point explosion against Liege. He ended his rookie season being swept in the first round of the playoffs against Limburg where he was solid averaging 12,0ppg and 5,0rpg in the 3 game series. ‘The level is raised in the post season. Every game counts but playing in a series where you have to make adjustments and have the big time players step up, the team has to become closer together. Limburg was closer as a unit. It was a good experience. I helped the team become top 4. It was a good year for the team’, commented Cameron McGriff.
The American who lists Kobe, Jordan, Lebron, and Shaq on his personal NBA Mount Rushmore left Europe and came back to the States in his second professional season. He was with the Charlotte Hornets Summer League team and later signed with them, but was waived. He then signed a contract with G-League team Greensboro Swarm and played most of the season with them, but also was very fortunate to profit from the NBA Hardship exception and signed a 10 day contract with the Portland Tralblazers where he got into 3 games. He had a very solid G-League season averaging 11.7ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 55.7%, 3PT: 34.5%, FT: 77.8%. Overall it is very difficult to get an NBA call up because being able to keep consistent stats is very difficult with all the movement happening. ‘It was definitely tough, because you never knew what the roster was going to look like the day before a game. You have to be on your toes every night. In Athens there can be changes, but you normally know what you will get on a regular basis. The team put me in many different spots, but I was still able to be successful. That was a good point for me during my stay with Greensboro’, remembered Cameron McGriff. In the G-League he scored in double figures in 25 games and had a 33 point explosion against Windy City. His stay in the NBA was brief, but sweet. Right away in his first game, he had the fortune of having a type of home game playing against the Dallas Mavericks. ‘Playing my first game against Dallas was surreal for me. It was special for me since being a kid from the Dallas area.The city embraced me even though the game was in Portland. I got a lot of love form family, friends and long time teachers. It was a moment that I will never forget. It was a good day’, stressed Cameron McGriff. Even if he was benefited in a way from Covid in helping him reach the NBA, it also hurt him on January 2nd 2022. Who knows what could have happened had he remained healthy. ‘The greatest example that the NBA is business before anything else was when my 10 day contract got cut short, because I had got COVID after the game against the Lakers. After that it was just over. There were no more questions or get well soon remarks. That is how you know that the NBA is definitely a business. I just picked up my bags and moved on. There were no hard feelings. I had the chance to go to camp the next summer. You just can’t get too emotionally invested’, warned Cameron McGriff. In the summer of 2022, he still had the NBA on his mind as he was with Charlotte again in the NBA Summer League, but didn’t play. That helped him comeback to Europe, but is the NBA a done deal? ‘It was tough for me mentally, but I never could get too down on myself. I know I will always find a way. I’m really grateful that I got the offer to play for a great club like AEK Athens. I wouldn’t say not being in the NBA is the biggest loss, but I’m just thankful that I can continue to play the game I love at a high level. Now I’m focusing on growth of myself and AEK’, warned Cameron McGriff.
The American who believes that the classic Coming to America should have been left alone now has a new challenge in Greece with Basketball Champions League team AEK Athens. He definitely chose a great country to live in as well as playing in a very respected league. ‘It has been a great experience. You can feel the fan enthusiasm in the gym. You can see the black and yellow everywhere in the arena, city and even seeing the support from the fans at grocery store is great’, said Cameron McGriff. Leaving the NBA isn’t easy for any guy that was there and being teammates with a veteran who was there for 8 seasons like Tim Frazier can be tough getting reminded so often, but on the other hand also very beneficial. ‘It has been good being teammates with Tim. Having a veteran around where I can ask him questions about the NBA, but also as a professional there is that automatic respect, because we both have been in the NBA. I ask him questions about his professional career things off the court as well. He is a great leader and he carries himself in such a professional way. It isn’t about scoring, but for him it is about how he carries himself as a professional’, added Cameron McGriff. He has needed no adjustment period in the Greek first division averaging 13,5ppg, 6,2rpg, 1,2apg and is shooting a very respectable 42% from the parking lot. He also has made his mark in the Basketball Champions League averaging 10,3ppg and 7,7rpg while shooting 37% from outside. He has proven that versatility is something the team will always get from him. ‘I can do multiple things. I am defensively versatile, bring energy on the court on offense and defense. The team can always count on my effort, because I will play hard’, warned Cameron McGriff. He has experienced so much since his rookie season in Belgium and is a totally different player now. ‘My game has grown in that in my first season I was trying to find my identity and how I could fit at the next level. I worked a lot on my jump shot and becoming more consistent. I also focused on becoming more aggressive defensively guarding multiple positions. I put all that on to display in the NBA and G-League. There really wasn’t that much change besides becoming more physical and getting my body better in shape. Now I focus on the tactics and understanding the different philosophies of teams. I also attack the game with all my weapons and don’t be a one dimensional player’, warned Cameron McGriff. It will be interesting to see where the journey will go with him this season. AEK Athens are mixing it up with Euroleague teams Panathinaikos and Olympiakos in the Greek standings and will most likely compete for the Basketball Champions League title. His game will continue to grow this season that getting a NBA call down the road could become a reality again. After having some legendary stories for the grandchildren about the Laker greats, why not add some new ones in the future?
Tags : CAMERON MCGRIFF, AEK ATHENS, GERMAN BASKETBALL