NCAA

Cameron Ayers on father, Randy: 'He was kind of like my own personal coach'

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The Associated Press

Cameron Ayers on father, Randy: 'He was kind of like my own personal coach'

Cameron Ayers was born into a basketball family.

He got to watch the likes of Allen Iverson and Dwight Howard up close, getting exposed to a high level of basketball right from the beginning.

And he wasn’t just watching them on TV.

His father, Randy Ayers, spent 1997-2003 and 2009-10 as an assistant coach for the Sixers (and head coach briefly in 2003-04), so Cameron got to see the Sixers turn themselves from a bottom feeder in the Eastern Conference to an NBA Finals team in 2000-01.

“I maybe started playing when I was about 5,” Cameron Ayers said. “My older brother also played, so it was just a basketball family. A lot of dinner and lunch conversations around basketball and different things like that, talking about basketball every day.”

This connection to his dad allowed him to interact with NBA superstars early on, a valuable experience many basketball players never get.

“[The coolest experience] was probably either talking to Allen Iverson or Chris Paul, just to try to pick their brains,” Ayers said. “They’re superstars, and just how they go about it different ways [was interesting].”

Meanwhile, Ayers was in the process of building his own basketball career. A Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, native and Germantown Academy graduate, he eventually went to play college at Bucknell University. Ayers said he’s lived just outside of Philadelphia since he was 6½ and lived there up through high school.

From there, he made an immediate impact for the Bison, culminating in a Patriot League Player of the Year award his senior year. He was in good company winning the award, as the last Bucknell player to win the award was Mike Muscala, who has played for the Atlanta Hawks since 2014.

While having an NBA coach as a father could be intimidating to some, Ayers saw it as an opportunity and a privilege.

“He knows how to separate coach and dad, which is really cool,” he said. “He’d always give me a lot of pointers when I was growing up. He let me work out with the [Sixers] a couple times, so it was really cool. He was kind of like my own personal coach.”

Randy, who has over 30 years of college and NBA coaching experience, saw his son play Sunday at The Basketball Tournament (TBT) at Philadelphia University. Cameron was grateful for that, saying his father always tries to watch him play.

“Wherever he is, I know he’s watching from somewhere," he said. "I saw him up in the stands earlier. I give him a little look sometimes, but it was a great experience him being a coach for sure.”

Cameron played for the PA RoadWarriors in TBT this year, a team made up of mostly Bucknell alumni. The team made it to the second round of the tournament, falling just short to The Untouchables, a Pittsburgh alumni team.

Randy picked a good game to see his son play. Trailing by as much as 17, Bucknell climbed back into the game and eventually tied it at 72 with 1:24 left in regulation with a three-pointer from Ayers. With Bucknell down one later on, Ayers hit another three with 2.9 seconds left, which seemed like it would be the game-winner.

However, The Untouchables hit a buzzer beater to tie the game and eventually came away with a 90-88 win in overtime. The loss in no way diminished Ayers’ effort; he finished with 28 points and five rebounds.

John Griffin, who coached the RoadWarriors and is entering his second year as an assistant at Bucknell, didn’t get to coach Ayers while he was with the Bison, but said he’s known Ayers for a long time because he played with his brother, Ryan, in Philadelphia.

“That’s [the performance] we expected, we’re going to live and die with Cameron and Charles [Lee] shooting, we were going to live and die whether he made shots or not,” Griffin said. “They have the ability to take it from A to Z pretty quickly.”

Now Ayers is playing professionally, coming off a season in Lithuania with Šiauliai. He said his main goal is to continue to play overseas in Europe, but he hasn’t ruled out an eventual return to the D-League, where he played for a bit with the Reno Big Horns in 2015.

"Hopefully in a week or two I'll find out where I'm going, just back to Europe, hopefully on the western side of things," Ayers said. "Maybe Germany, Italy, Spain, France, something like that."

Temple football introduces Manny Diaz as new coach

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Temple football introduces Manny Diaz as new coach

Manny Diaz let everyone know what he thought of the reception he received when being introduced as Temple's football coach Thursday.

"This is better than what was on the brochure," he said.

The 44-year-old University of Miami defensive coordinator was introduced as the 15th head coach in school history in front of a packed crowd of students and supporters at Liacouris Center. Diaz replaces Geoff Collins, who left last week after two seasons to coach Georgia Tech.

"I was very deliberate in my time searching out the right head coaching opportunity," Diaz said. "I had some other opportunities throughout the years but I wanted to find the right fit not just for me but for my family and a place that is committed to a championship culture in all things."

Diaz, who said he will finish out the season for Miami in the Pinstripe Bowl against Wisconsin on Dec. 27, thanked all of the former coaches he has worked under in college football in his 19-year career. He was defensive coordinator at Mississippi State, Louisiana Tech, Texas and Middle Tennessee State.

"I had an amazing collection of head coaches I've worked under that have helped shape my philosophy and style," Diaz said. "That goes to back to my first head coach, Bobby Bowden, who was maybe the best ever to do it."

After mentioning the Bowden at Florida State coach, Diaz also thanked Chuck D'Amato, Rick Stockstill, Dan Mullin, Mack Brown, Skip Holtz and Mark Richt.

Unlike Diaz, Collins will not coach the Owls in their bowl game. The Owls take on Duke in the Walk On's Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana, On Dec. 27. Tight Ends Coach Ed Foley, who is the interim coach for Temple for the second time, will coach that game.

Shizz Alston Jr. scores 31 points to lead Temple over UMass

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Shizz Alston Jr. scores 31 points to lead Temple over UMass

BOX SCORE 

Shizz Alston Jr. scored a career-high 31 points and made 3 of 4 foul shots in the last nine seconds and Temple rallied then held off UMass 65-63 on Wednesday night.

Less than a minute into the second half, Samba Diallo's 3-pointer gave the Minutemen a 40-27 lead. That triggered a 16-2 Temple run and De'Vondre Perry's layup put the Owls (8-2) ahead 43-42. Quinton Rose scored half the points during the run. Jonathan Laurent's layup with 11:54 to play gave UMass (6-5) its last lead at 46-45. Alston put Temple ahead with two foul shots 54 seconds later.

Alston threw down a dunk for a 62-57 lead with 1:18 to play, before Sy Chatman narrowed the deficit to a point with a pair of layups, the last with nine seconds left before Alston closed it out at the foul line. He finished 11 of 12 from the line and Rose scored 14. Temple was 2 of 18 from 3-point range but missed just 4 of 21 from the line.

Keon Clergeot, Laurent and Luwane Pipkins each scored 12 for UMass.