You’re into basketball, even as a 10-year-old, so your mom takes you on the train from home in Hempstead, Long Island, to Penn Station in midtown Manhattan, switching to the subway to take you to Harlem for basketball practice. Reverse the commute home, twice a week.
Eventually, the trip takes you to Florida for an extra year after high school since you can play Division I ball. You know it, but the D1 scholarship offers aren’t quite there. Interest but not offers.
Update: You can play Division I ball.
As a Drexel freshman, Cam Wynter was the Colonial Athletic Association rookie of the year after being named rookie of the week five times. For the Dragons, he was more than the top newcomer. He was second in the CAA in assists (average of 5.4 a game) while averaging 11.3 points.
It was not exactly luck that brought Drexel and Wynter together, more like good faith on all sides. Wynter was doing that post-grad year at DME Academy in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Drexel had looked into a DME player the year before. The coach there kind of talked Drexel off that player. “Shot us straight,’’ said Drexel coach Zach Spiker.
The next year, Spiker said, the coach called back, “Hey, I’ve got one that makes sense for you.” The candid assessment the year before went a long way, Spiker said. “He wasn’t our type of guy from a toughness standpoint,’’ Drexel assistant Justin Jennings said of the other player.
Wynter, on the other hand …
“He was always on his toes, picking up guys full-court,’’ Jennings said of watching the 6-foot-2 Wynter. “Out of the game, he was always standing up cheering on the team. I think the biggest thing was, it’s hard to define it -- when you see it, an OKG. Our Kind of Guy. We knew he was going to affect us.”
“My coach had told me after the fact,’’ Wynter said of the conversations involving both he and the player the year before. “I think that just goes along with always being respectful. You never know who someone else knows. I always appreciated that."
Maybe Wynter was a bit of a late developer, but it was more that he had played with another point guard in high school who had maybe been a step ahead in developing and was a couple of inches taller. As it happens, the other player is in the CAA, too, and averaged 15 minutes a game last season at William & Mary, averaged a little less than 2 points a game. Nobody said recruiting and player evaluation is easy.
“We knew he would be able to impact the game on the defensive side,’’ Jennings said of Wynter.
“We leaned on him a lot for everything,’’ Spiker said of Wynter, the freshman.
“No one can say they were expecting that,’’ Wynter said of the start of his Drexel career. “I wasn’t surprised when it happened. I knew how much work I had put in, how true I was to getting in the gym every day. I was just glad my hard work was paying off.”
Wynter has always felt when he’s between “those four lines” nothing else matters. He seems like the kind of guy who is comfortable in his own skin. What else should the world know about Cam Wynter?
“Cam Wynter is a hard-working, humble guy,’’ Cam Wynter said, “who likes to watch tennis.”
Where did that come from?
“I don’t know,’’ Wynter said. “One day I just turned it on, pretty interesting sport, great sport. I was probably 14 when I first started watching it.”
Federer guy? Nadal guy? Djokovic guy?
“I’m a Djokovic guy,’’ Wynter said. “I just like the way he plays. Tall. Hits hard. Everyone seems to be a Federer or Nadal guy.”
Watches a lot of women’s tennis too?
“Yeah,’’ Wynter said. ‘Serena on that side. There’s no way you couldn’t be.”
If Drexel ends practice, Wynter might make his meal wait a little bit, he said, so he can watch a little tennis. Regular-tour stops, third round? “Yeah,’’ he said.
Does he play? “I have, but I’m not Drexel material,’’ Wynter said.
He watches a lot of basketball, too. Football, yes. But Wimbledon, U.S. Open. “I’m watching tennis. ... That and college football.”
The interesting aspect isn’t that he’s a tennis fan, more that he’s comfortable shooting the breeze about it. He doesn’t sound fazed by exchanges with his coaches, either. The other day, Spiker said, he texted a film of a Drexel play to several players including Wynter, commenting on the potential of the play.
Wynter texted back a clip of a Mortal Kombat game he’d been playing, saying, “This is a much better video.”