Cam Whitmore Hoping to Shine at Nike Hoop Summit
The Villanova commit has made steady improvements each season to earn a bid to represent the USA on April 8
When Cam Whitmore thinks back to his freshman basketball season, he notes one major difference between that player and the one who was among the nation’s best as a senior this year.
And it’s not his shooting, passing, rebounding or defense.
“It’s my confidence,” said Whitmore, a star forward for Archbishop Spalding High School in Severn, Maryland, who is committed to Villanova University next season. “My confidence boosted each year. I got more comfortable with the ball in my hands. I now feel like I can score every time I have the ball. I’m as confident as ever.”
Whitmore — who was named to the 12-player American roster for the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Oregon, on April 8 — believes that his four-year confidence boost was the combined result of experience, maturity and hard work.
“It was just my mentality,” said the Odenton, Maryland, native. “It was figuring out when to get a bucket and when not to. It was basically working out every day, getting better, getting stronger, getting smarter.”
Another element of Whitmore’s path to increased confidence and mental clarity has been his ability to ignore outside noise.
“Just the noise,” Whitmore said when asked about the biggest obstacle he has overcome as a player. “People trying to put me down because they don’t like how I’m winning in life.”
The 6-foot-6-inch Whitmore has been able to block out the noise by listening to his inner voice — a dialogue that he tries to keep as serene as possible.
“When I’m fighting through adversity, it’s all about finding my peace,” Whitmore said. “When something looks like it’s gonna get in my way, I try to calm down. I’m a chill, low-key, laidback type of person. I just want to hoop. It doesn’t matter where.”
Unfortunately for Whitmore, his senior season was marred by a nagging ankle injury that never really had an opportunity to heal.
“Sadly, I sprained my ankle and that was a major part of the season,” Whitmore said. “The first part of the season was good, but toward the end, no excuses, but I thought I could’ve done better. I gave it my all.”
Whitmore has not played competitively on his ankle since Archbishop Spalding’s season ended with a loss to St. Frances in the semifinals of the Baltimore Catholic League playoffs. Battling the sore ankle, Whitmore led his team to a win in the quarterfinals by scoring the game-winning basket with 2.6 seconds left.
“It still gets sore after I work out,” Whitmore said, noting that he’ll definitely be good to go for the Nike Hoop Summit.
And that’s a good thing because Whitmore is looking forward to playing in the event, which pits 12 of the top American high school seniors against a team of similarly aged international players.
“It’s a blessing to represent your country,” Whitmore said. “Out of everybody in the country, only 12 are chosen. It’s such a low number, so that’s a big blessing that I’m really grateful for.”
Whitmore already knows a couple of the players who he’ll be teaming up with at the Nike Hoop Summit. He has played against Dariq Whitehead, who is heading to Duke, and Nick Smith Jr., who is bound for Arkansas, and he’s going to enjoy being on their side this time.
“They did good against us,” Whitmore said, “so I’m excited to play with them in that game.”
After the Nike Hoop Summit, Whitmore will begin to focus on what he hopes will be a dynamic stint at Villanova.
The Wildcats, who will play in the Final Four later this week, currently have a roster loaded with upperclassmen. In turn, next season’s team should feature opportunities for newcomers like Whitmore.
However, as the 17-year-old noted, nothing is promised to him despite his status as a five-star recruit.
“I’ve got to earn my spot,” Whitmore said. “(Coach Jay Wright) expects me to work hard. He knows to what I can do. I just gotta go show it.”
And who knows, maybe this time next year, Whitmore and the Wildcats will be back in the Final Four.
“I can’t wait,” he said. “I’ve been watching — not just Villanova but March Madness in general. Man, that atmosphere. Playing in front of millions of people. I’m excited. I really can’t wait!”