Wake Forest commit Cam Hildreth has rapidly become the talk of the town amongst the British Basketball community, with many taking the view that the 18-year-old guard could potentially follow in the footsteps of London-born OG Anunoby and play in the NBA.
It’s a long road ahead for the former Worthing Thunder star, but since his move to BBL franchise Surrey Scorchers at the start of February to continue his development before his move to North Carolina, all signs have indicated that the potential is real and the hype should be believed.
Having made the provisional Great Britain roster for the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 Qualifiers a couple months ago, but unfortunately for him not the final cut, all eyes will be on Hildreth to demonstrate his talent on the international stage providing he gets more call ups in the future, and if his debut in the BBL is anything to go by, GB fans will be in for a treat.
— GB Basketball (@gbbasketball) February 20, 2021
Elite level potential
You can understand why Hildreth is nicknamed ‘Killa Cam’, with his ability to finish close-up consistently with contact, his ability to knock down the three ball in high pressure scenarios, and his ability to entertain – often putting the defence on skates before earning a bucket.
The entertainment the young star brings whenever he steps on the court constantly has the entire British Basketball community come together in excitement to see whose ankles will be broken next.
It’s the unpredictable nature of Hildreth’s game which makes him the hottest prospect in Britain, and it’s difficult to doubt him in situations when all eyes are on him to pull off a clutch play.
The Scorchers look a far stronger team with him in the rotation, and Head Coach Creon Raftopoulos has proved that he has full faith in the future Wake Forest guard – most notably when he instructed the match-winning play against Thames Valley Cavaliers in the BBL Trophy at the start of the month – on Hildreth’s debut, to be run through him.
CAMERON HILDRETH OH MY GOODNESS!!!!!!
— Surrey Scorchers (@surreyscorchers) February 5, 2021
After averaging just over 20 points in his first season with NBL team Worthing Thunder as a 17/18-year-old, as well as winning the MVP of the Southern Conference award while representing the Holy Trinity Storm in the ABL, Hildreth dropped 22 points against the Cavaliers, as well as making four assists, five rebounds and three steals.
Former player and coach Jay Marriott, who now co-hosts The BBL Show, was not at all surprised by Hildreth’s debut performance, and suggested it was proof that the 6’4 teenager will adapt to the US just fine.
“I wasn’t surprised in what he did in his debut, his fearlessness as well as his talent tells me he will make the adjustment just fine,” said Marriott.
“I will let everyone else make all the over-hype, I want to just enjoy him whilst we have him and let him play with no pressure.
“Also, this game showed me exactly what Coach Creon thinks of him- last play of the game, on his debut and he puts the ball in Hildreth’s hands to go and win the game. He knows what a talent he is harbouring for the season.”
Raftopoulos is known for giving chances to young English talent, making the Scorchers the ideal place for Hildreth to continue his development before arriving at Wake Forest to play NCAA Division 1 basketball.
The rest of the staff at Surrey also have full faith in Hildreth reaching his potential if he continues to work hard, while Scorchers’ presenter Tom Bonnett believes hype will quickly build behind the GB international if he hits the ground running in North Carolina.
“Anything is possible! He’s clearly got an incredible skill set and basketball IQ! What better place to go and continue to develop than the ACC,” said Bonnett.
“If he plays like that Stateside, the hype will quickly follow. I definitely back him!
“He’s an outstanding talent! When he’s on the court you just can’t take your eyes off him, every time he gets the ball, he does something you aren’t expecting!
“The game winner was just a ‘pinch me’ moment, it was written in the stars. I’m so happy for him, he’s a really polite and hardworking young man and he deserves the best.”
Hildreth, rated as the number one prospect from the UK in the 2021 draft class, committed to Wake Forest, though Arkansas, Xavier, Utah and Georgia Tech were all interested in him too – but the idea of having an impact in North Carolina straight away was very appealing for the 18-year-old.
His future university have only ever seen one of their student-athletes be number one pick in the NBA Draft, when Tim Duncan was selected by the San Antonio Spurs in 1997.
Ironically, Tim Duncan’s former Spurs teammate Tony Parker owns ASVEL Bucket in France, who has Hildreth’s fellow 18-year-old GB teammate Matthew Marsh in their roster – another hot prospect for the future.
On top of Tim Duncan, the Demon Deacons have also seen the likes of Phoenix Suns’ superstar Chris Paul, Atlanta Hawks power forward John Collins and the Boston Celtics’ one-time NBA All-Star Jeff Teague drafted from their team in the first round.
The Demon Deacons’ Head Coach Steve Forbes told Planet Basketball of his excitement to have Hildreth in his team, highlighting the 18-year-old’s competitive nature and ability as qualities he will bring to the best league in the US at college level.
“Cameron is a multi-dimensional player who can do so many things with or without the ball,” said Forbes.
“He is a fierce competitor who embraces the challenge of playing against the best and guarding the team’s best player.
“He comes from a basketball family and has been well taught. He is prepared to play in the ACC, which is the best league in the United States.
“We are thrilled he’s going to be a Demon Deacon and can’t wait for his arrival.”
Without a doubt, the hype surrounding Hildreth is real, and if his form in the BBL carries over to the AAC, we may be watching the next British star in the NBA.