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Former Alpena High basketball star Cameron to be inducted into Alpena Sports Hall of Fame

April 22, 2012
By JAMES ANDERSEN - News Sports Editor ( , The Alpena News

Whether it was helping the Alpena High School basketball team win two district titles, being a part of a nationally-ranked Michigan Tech basketball team or playing overseas, Matt Cameron found success at every level of basketball he played.

Now he's being recognized for his accomplishments.

Cameron will be inducted into the Alpena Sports Hall of Fame as part of the 2011 class along with Craig Knechtel, Rex Ferguson and Nick Alexander on May 5.

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As a member of the Alpena High School basketball team, Matt Cameron helped lead the Wildcats to back-to-back district titles. From there he went on to play at Michigan Tech, where he ended his career as the school’s all-time leading rebounder. After college Cameron played two seasons in Luxembourg, where he was a top scorer. Cameron is one of four inductees in the 2011 class of the Alpena Sports Hall of Fame.

"It's a huge honor for me," Cameron said. "I'm very humbled by the fact that the people that vote thought enough to put me with the rest of the great Alpena athletes that are in there."

Cameron's basketball exploits began with the Wildcats, whom he helped lead to back-to-back district titles in 1997-98. As a senior, Cameron was named Class A all-state and Alpena's Male Scholar Athlete of the Year.

That season, the Wildcats finished 21-3 with two of their losses coming to Petoskey, which was ranked No. 1 in Class B for much of the year. Alpena picked up many solid wins along the way including a victory over a Jason Richardson-led Saginaw Arthur Hill squad.

With the help of his parents, assistant coach John Pintar and head coach Dave McDonald, Cameron, who started at shooting guard for the Wildcats, transformed into a complete basketball player at Alpena. He attended every camp he could get into and Pintar helped him on his footwork. At home, Cameron's parents would rebound for him and keep a shot chart while he took 300 shots a day to improve his accuracy.

He is currently the No. 9 scorer on Alpena's all-time total points list.

While Cameron was a good player, Alpena boasted a solid lineup of players including Matt Muszynski, Eric Muszynski and Josh Rondeau. Using McDonald's tough matchup zone defense, the Wildcats made consecutive regional semifinal appearances in 1997-98.

"When I played, we had a great team," Cameron said. "It was a complicated defense to learn, but sometimes teams wouldn't figure it out until the third quarter."

When it came time for college, Cameron had his eye on Michigan Tech's engineering program, but a little work from Pintar send Cameron to Houghton for sports as well as his studies. A phone call from Pintar turned into a workout at Tech where Cameron was offered a partial scholarship.

With the Huskies, Cameron found himself on a team that was reminiscent of the Wildcats. Not only did he identify with the coaching style of head coach Kevin Luke, but Cameron and the class he came in with all redshirted their freshman year, so they got to spend five years together developing chemistry.

"Coach Luke, he's sort of an icon by now," Cameron said. "The way he taught basketball, the way he treated people and the way he coached fit perfectly with me."

Cameron's list of accomplishments as a member of the Huskies seemed to grow by the year. Among his accolades, he was a two-time Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Player of the Year and a two-time Division II All-American. He made the GLIAC first team four times and was named conference Freshman of the Year.

The chemistry Cameron developed with his teammates paid huge dividends in his senior year. The Huskies went 29-3 and were ranked No. 1 in Division II for a part of the year, having at least six players on the roster who averaged double figures.

Cameron, who converted to small forward at Tech, ended his college career as the school's all-time leading rebounder and fourth all-time leading scorer.

After college, Cameron didn't get any attention from NBA teams, but he did catch the eye of some agents and eventually got an offer to play with AS Soleuvre in Luxembourg.

Overseas, Cameron found a comfortable environment with different types of people who spoke as many as four languages. But now that he was playing professionally, Cameron faced expectations higher than any he'd had before.

"It's much different. It's professional and you're expected to put out a high number of points and guard the other team's best player." Cameron said. "In the first few months I realized I could play and it got a little easier."

After some adjustment, Cameron finished as the third leading scorer in the Diekierch League at 28.6 points per game in his first season. The next season, he was the league's second leading scorer at 31.6 points per game and was named Position Player of the Year.

"It was extremely satisfying to know that I could play basketball, because I didn't know anything about playing in the league," Cameron said. "You're always afraid for your job. (In the second year) I didn't have to worry about my job."

After playing two years in Luxembourg, Cameron contemplated an offer to play in New Zealand, but decided to end his basketball career. At that point, he'd gotten everything he wanted out of his professional career and he didn't want to stray too far from his degrees in mechanical engineering and business.

It also helped that both Cameron and his wife Meghan received job offers that would allow them to stay in Alpena. Today Cameron works as a mechanical supervisor at Lafarge.

As is typical with induction speeches, Cameron plans to thank the people who helped him along during his career when it's his turn.

"I had a lot of people help me and I guess that's my main focus. I want to make sure those people are recognized," Cameron said.



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