Kind enough to give BallinEurope a nice extensive interview is Cameron Rundles, currently plying his trade with the Leicester Raiders in his rookie season as a professional. Rundles made a name for himself ‘Stateside in his junior and senior years at Wofford College in taking the NCAA’s Southern Conference and earning NCAA tournament bids in consecutive years. (And he was even once a Mighty Unicorn!)
Rundles chatted with BallinEurope’s British basketball specialist Sam Chadwick about his love for football, playing in the NCAA tournament, and the importance of Andrew Sullivan, among other topics. And judging by Rundles’ apparent enthusiasm within his responses, he can’t help but get noticed along the way to playing pro hoops “in as many countries as I can.” This guy knows how to bring the exclamation points.
BallinEurope: Firstly, you used to be pretty good at (American) football; what made you choose basketball?
Cameron Rundles: Football was my first love and I had a few Division 1 scholarships to play, but the older I got the more basketball became appealing to me and I found that in basketball my strongest qualities were able to flourish more! Things such as leadership, and knowledge of the game! In football these qualities apply as well, but are more difficult to show on an every play/possession basis! So I think I chose basketball because it fit my personality more! But I do believe I’m a better football player then basketball player!
You played NCAA basketball at Wofford after transferring from Montana, where you were Big Sky Freshman of the Year; what made you change?
My freshman year, the coach that recruited me left straight away! His name was coach Larry Krystoviak and he went on to coach the Milwaukee Bucks. I thought about leaving right away but I thought I would stick it out under coach Wayne Tinkle. After an impressive freshman year, I still had my doubts there and didn’t like our style of play! After my second year, I called my best friend Jamar Diggs, who at the time attended Wayne State, a Division II school in Nebraska and said, “Let’s link back up because I’m not truly happy here.” We both decided to attend Wofford College and the rest was history, taking the Terriers to their first ever NCAA tournament and we went back-to-back years!
What was it like playing in the NCAA Tournament?
Playing in the NCAA tournament were the two best games in my life! It’s a feeling that cannot be described with words, only by experiences! If I told you what it was like to play in that tournament, you would have to multiply it by a few to get the true feelings! It was really a dream come true: Years and years of watching that thing and filling out brackets as a kid and one day you’re that kid on CBS primetime playing in front of thousands and millions are watching on the tube!! There is no better feeling!
You’re now playing in the British Basketball League for Leicester Riders; what made you choose the BBL and more specifically what was it about Leicester that convinced you to sign there?
Being a rookie, I don’t think there could be too many things to say bad about my situation! I love the Leicester community, the fans, the environment – everything about this place is great! But the main reason I chose this place was because of our head coach Rob Paternostro! After just speaking with him on the phone a few times, you see a coach that is truly interested in bringing along great character guys and winners! And that’s what he has brought to the table! My teammates are great, and not just on the court, they are all high character guys and that speaks volumes on Rob’s part!
Do you have any personal and/or team goals for this season or do you just go with the flow?
I’m definitely not a just-go-with-the-flow kind of guy! I don’t have any individual goals set for myself as of now, but before I was in Leicester, it was just to become a professional player and play for multiple years. But I think I speak for the whole team when I say I believe our team goal is to come out of the BBL with some hardware this season! We have a chance to win the BBL Cup and the league as well as the whole thing! And if we fail to do all three of those tasks, I believe that will be a disappointing season for the Leicester Riders and certainly underachieving.
You have a lot of new faces at Leicester with the likes of yourself, Ayron Hardy and Andrew Sullivan; do you three bond well and is there someone who took you under their wing as a mentor?
Sullivan, Hardy and myself really do play well together, as well as my roommate [Bradd] Wierzbicki! Brett came along later, but our chemistry as a whole is starting to all come together! But without a doubt Andrew Sullivan has been the mentor for us, especially myself and Hardy. He has played for a lot of winning teams and understands what it takes to win at a professional level! And I feel like he and I are very similar in some ways but I’m usually the listener when we interact because he has so much insight to give a young player like myself! Myself as well as the Leicester Riders are pretty fortunate to land such a player as Sullivan!
What difference does Andrew Sullivan make to your team? Obviously you started the season without him, but since he joined you haven’t lost a game.
The difference that Sullivan brings to our team first is his versatility! He is able to play on the wing as well as on the block! And even more on the defensive end on the floor, he is able to guard the 2 position all the way to the 5 position when needed! Also, he brings a winning attitude to our team that fits in because our coach Rob has won lots of games as a coach as well as a player in this league and I think of myself as a true winner as well as many of the guys on our team, but Sullivan has won on this level and as recently as last year with the Mersey Tigers, so it’s valuable to have a guy like that in your corner!
What’s next for you personally? Playing elsewhere in Europe or do you think you will stay at Leicester for a while?
For me personally, I wanna travel the world and play in as many countries as I can for as many years as my body allows me to! Whether that would be next year or in multiple years from now I’m not sure! I would definitely love to stay in Leicester for the next couple years if the situation works for both parties, but as of now I’m just trying to win basketball games for my club!
What has been the game of your career so far?
The game of my career thus far would have to be my first road game in the BBL championships, when I tallied 33 points off of seven three-point makes and hit the game-winning shot as the buzzer sounded over a pair of defenders to win by two points! That was at Guildford. But it was also my worst free throw shooting performance maybe of my life! Four for 12 … atrocious!
Lastly, what advice would you give to younger guys trying to make it in the NCAA or professional basketball?
My advice to younger kids trying to make it to the big leagues or the NCAA ranks is to first decide if they really want to do it! Once you’ve looked yourself in the mirror and decided that’s your dream, you just chase and chase and keep chasing. During your joinery you will come across peer pressure, drugs/alcohol, girls/boys, all these distractions, but they shouldn’t interfere with getting to that level if you’re truly serious with chasing that dream! And once you make it … Definitely enjoy every moment, but also even surprise yourself and keep climbing higher!!!!