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Cam Hildreth of Surrey Scorchers heads to the United States (Image: Rob Sambles)

Cam Hildreth is unable to recall her first experience with squeaky sneakers or the roar generated by a vicious poster. Not in every detail, anyway. He came when he was only three days old as he watched his father Daniel take to the ground.

“Watch” may be too ambitious for a three-day-old. More like “slept”. Nonetheless, he defined the notion of growing up surrounded by basketball.

Cam’s father played professionally as a playmaker for the Worthing Thunder and Brighton Bears, among others, during a 15-year career in British basketball which included time working with the Raptors head coach. from Toronto, Nick Nurse. While Daniel is still a coach, the focus these days is on the little spectator who accompanied him to games.

“This was when I first met my grandparents, they were all watching the game,” Hildreth said. Sky Sports. “Obviously I have no memory of it because it was so long ago, but I was told and seen pictures that it was my first game.

“It’s just been around me my whole life through the family generations, so it’s something I’ve built a love for over time.”

Rising British Basketball Star Cam Hildreth discusses US trip with Wake Forest |  Basketball News

Hildreth goes to the basket against the London Lions (Image: Rob Sambles)

Behind Hildreth hangs an impressive treasure trove of medals on a rack cut out in the shape of basketball players, while a few inches to the left is a silhouette wall sticker featuring a player jumping for a one-handed flush. Basketball is rooted in him, and has been since that first outing.

In an hour, he has another interview, just returning from his daily training, in which he admits to having discomfort in his back. Surrey Scorchers head coach Creon Raftopoulos is not afraid, however, with Hildreth offering assurances that he “will be fine for the weekend”.

There is a distinct serenity and ingrained demeanor in a teenager who is quickly gaining a reputation and demanding attention as one of the most talented prospects in British basketball.

“It all happened pretty quickly, to be honest,” he added. “Since the Adidas Next Generation tournament my name has been circulated to a few people and there has been a lot of hype that I have tried to stay at the same level.

“It’s amazing to hear people think about that, but to me my journey isn’t over yet. I haven’t reached my goal. It’s very nice to hear ‘the next thing that will come out of Europe ‘and all that, and I take that with pride and I’m honored, but at the same time, I haven’t reached my goal yet.

“Until I get there, this is where I can say I’ve achieved what I want to achieve. But right now, I can’t take it all easy. I still have to work hard and everything. to work.”

Rising British Basketball Star Cam Hildreth discusses US trip with Wake Forest |  Basketball News

Hildreth is looking for a teammate (Image: Rob Sambles)

Hildreth has averaged 9.3 points, four defensive rebounds and 2.7 assists per game thanks to six BBL Championship outings since arriving in Surrey in early February.

The 18-year-old’s arrival came following two seasons with Worthing in NBL Division One, in which he averaged 20 points, six rebounds and three assists during the 2019-20 campaign.

“I started out in the junior leagues and always played to the max, so I was always the youngest on the team,” he said. “I’ve always done this to push myself. I never want to be in a comfort zone, because when I get to a comfort zone I know that sometimes I can relax a bit and that’s the last thing I want to do I always need to push me.

“The opportunity at Thunder was there for me and I think this year has been great, playing with Alex Owumi who was a former BBL player, Zaire Taylor, who was once again the BBL … guys around I were just great mentors to me. “

Last year’s Adidas Next Generation Euroleague tournament in Lithuania, meanwhile, earned national recognition, as Hildreth led the tournament with 25.8 points per game for Barking Abbey, who finished fifth overall. Hildreth also recorded 6.8 rebounds (10th), 4.3 assists (4th), four steals 1st) and 1.2 blocks (5th) per game, and had a performance of 35 points against Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul and Joventut Badalona.

His ascent continued in September 2020 when he enlisted in the NCAA Division One program and four-time ACC Champion, Wake Forest for 2021-2022.

“Obviously the main priority right now is to win games in Surrey, but don’t get me wrong, Wake Forest is still there,” says a smiling Hildreth, as he pulls out a Wake Forest pillow serving as a constant reminder. of the upcoming chapter. . “I can’t wait to get there, for sure.”

As offers came from elsewhere, North Carolina quickly became a natural home away from home. An indicative undoubtedly of the value of the BBL.

“The way Wake came into contact with me was lightly through the ANG tournament in Lithuania, that’s where they saw some of my highlights,” said Hildreth.

“But believe it or not, Nick Nurse actually came into contact with Wake’s coach Steve Forbes mainly because my dad and uncle are good friends with Nick because he coached them through the day. in BBL. He’s the head coach’s best friend. in Wake Forest, that’s how they got in touch. “

Rising British Basketball Star Cam Hildreth discusses US trip with Wake Forest |  Basketball News

They watched my highlights and then they were in awe and from there that’s how it went. I fell in love with Wake Forest – the staff are amazing, the coaching staff, the education staff, the facilities, everything is amazing. I was like “this is the one for me”.

Hildreth discusses the choice of Wake Forest

From nutrition to private school, ‘tick, tick, tick’ is how Hildreth continues to describe it, before his face lights up at the recall of 11 times NBA All-Star Chris Paul and five times NBA champion Tim Duncan is one of the Wake alumni.

Life with Surrey, especially during the COVID era, has provided valuable insight into the student-athlete balance Hildreth will face upon arriving in the United States. Competing means performing well in the classroom.

“Especially on these long trips that we have, I try to get my laptop out and work, no matter how hard it is,” he said. “Managing your time with basketball and education is important because obviously you need an education to play.”

Despite initial skepticism upon entering the BBL, the young guard who adapts his game to Kyrie Irving’s remained unfazed and perhaps even a little surprised by his own impact.

Production was immediate, with Hildreth scoring his debut with 22 points and a buzzing winner against the Thames Valley Cavaliers in the BBL Trophy, before registering 17 points against the Manchester Giants and a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds against the Bristol Flyers in the BBL Championship.

Inside that, shot selection has been a big part of his development as he moves into a more rear-facing role than he’s been used to in all youth age groups.

“It was difficult at first to understand the role, just trying to fit in,” he said. “In the Premier League I’m like the main guy doing most of the ball handling and shooting and then I take a step forward in the BBL I’m not the main guy but I’m still involved. the right balance of shot selection is important to me. “

Hildreth credits Raftopoulos with his early advice, as well as that of his seasoned teammates – including 11-year veteran and former NBA Draft pick Ryan Richards.

“Ryan touches me a lot, which at first I was like ‘fuck this guy won’t leave me alone’ but when I think about it he helps me, he helps me for the right reasons so it’s nice. to be around him, ”he continued.

The price of being the recruit.

Rising British Basketball Star Cam Hildreth discusses US trip with Wake Forest |  Basketball News

Watch Hildreth in action against Worcester Wolves live on Sky Sports Friday night (Image: Rob Sambles)

This has been Hildreth’s lasting impression over the past 12 months that he has been called up to the UK men’s squad for the November Eurobasket qualifiers. He didn’t play, but the trip alone provided some welcome take-out.

A Luke Nelson buzzer-beater in GB’s 83-81 win over Germany recently secured qualification for next year’s final, giving Hildreth another goal in sight.

“It was just a great experience, learning from them,” he explained. “This is the next step as well. Obviously these are top professional players and just learning from them, gaining experience from them and what it is like. to be at European level, was also great.

“I think that’s something I would really like to do in the future. Obviously doing it with the UK Under-16 and Under-18 team has been a great experience and to be part of the men’s team is something I would love to do for sure. If the opportunity arises, it is something that I would really love to do. “

Team GB or not, Hildreth will proudly represent his nation next season when he travels to the United States to begin his Demon Deacons career.

“It will be really interesting to live a totally different lifestyle,” he said. “I know it has a little bit to do with basketball, but the way they move to teams in private jets, and all that lifestyle, is something that I’ve obviously never experienced and it is a once in a lifetime experience.

“I think everything that’s going on there, having that lifestyle, seeing new people, being in a whole different country and learning different things, is going to be really interesting.”

It marks a major step forward towards the ultimate goal, whether in the NBA or exploring a European market filled with talent and opportunity.

“My card has always been to make basketball my job wherever it takes me,” said Hildreth. “I don’t have a specific card, but my card is that wherever it ends is my profession.

“My dream and my goals were to go to college in America. My dream and my next goal is to continue entering the NBA, but at the same time, who knows what’s going to happen? leads me, I wish it was. the end. I want this to be my job. “

Watch Hildreth and the Surrey Scorchers take on the Worcester Wolves live on Sky Sports Mix and Arena starting at 7 p.m. Friday.

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