Hang around locker rooms or team huddles long enough and inevitably you’ll hear someone spout, “There’s no ‘I’ in team!” Admittedly inelegant, this phrase conveys a noble notion that no individual matters more than the collective entity – the team.
On the College of Charleston’s men’s basketball squad, it’s a cultural trait. And no player embodies this more than senior Cameron Johnson.
Night in and night out, the 6-foot-4-inch, 220-pound Johnson contributes in so many ways, many of which don’t end up on the stat sheet. He’s regularly called on to defend the other team’s best players (a role he relishes). And on offense, he customarily defers to his teammates, feeding them passes rather than hoisting up his own shots. When a game ends, it’s a given that he’ll credit his fellow players for any measure of the Cougars’ success.
“I’ve played a lot of minutes here at the College,” Johnson says. “And I’m completely satisfied. It’s been a good experience for me and that has everything to do with my teammates and the coaching staff.”
Johnson talks fondly about the camaraderie he’s found at the College. “The thing that I am most appreciative of is the love and compassion that my coaches and teammates show to one another. Anyone in our locker room can attest, the games we win that are close – the ones we couldn’t win in the past – that’s happening because we have a special bond with one another.”
That bond is a key element within the culture Head Coach Earl Grant is implementing.
“Camaraderie is a big part of who we are as a program,” explains Grant. “We emphasize playing for the name on the front of the jersey, not the one on the back, and Cam embodies that perfectly. He’s truly the heartbeat of our team, giving great effort every day always with a positive attitude. That’s contagious for his teammates and even our coaching staff. In my view, what he brings to this program are all the intangibles, including toughness and a sound work ethic.”
Those intangibles should stand Johnson in good stead in the years to come. After graduating with a double major in business administration and hospitality and tourism management, he hopes to play basketball professionally.
As to his chances, Johnson says, “I’m really more comfortable letting my play do the talking. If I end up playing overseas or playing here, either way, I’ll be happy. As part of this team, I’ve learned to trust the process, and it’s worked so far.”
And if basketball doesn’t figure into Johnson’s future, that’s OK, too.
“My teammate Joe Chealey says this all the time: ‘20 or 30 years from now, nobody is going to remember the 30-point game you had. We’re going to remember that Marquise Pointer tripped and fell on a breakaway during practice and we’re going to joke about that. Or we’ll recall when Jarrell Brantley went up for a practice dunk and got hung up on the rim and nobody saw that but us,’” he says. “And those memories are the things that I carry more than the wins and losses. At the end of the day, I’m confident that we’re going to win games and coach is going to become a legend at this school.”
Johnson adds, “But after it’s all said and done, I’m going to go to Joe Chealey’s wedding and he’s going to come to mine, and that’s what it’s about – that bond; those relationships built over time. It’s a beautiful feeling.”