NCAA

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

ap-cameron-ayers-bucknell.jpg
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."

2019 NCAA March Madness printable bracket

2019 NCAA March Madness printable bracket

Sports fans, it’s the best time of the year.

Even if you don’t have a team in the dance, you’re probably filling out a bracket and will be just as interested in all the games, until your bracket has been busted.

Speaking of a bracket, if you’re looking for something clean to print out, click here. If you're looking for analysis, our friends at NBC Sports have you covered.

Good luck this year and be sure to be gracious in both victory and defeat in your office pool.

Georgetown knocks off No. 17 Villanova

usa-nova-georgetown.jpg
USA Today Images

Georgetown knocks off No. 17 Villanova

WASHINGTON -- Patrick Ewing's Georgetown Hoyas and Villanova added another bit of history to the teams' rivalry.

Ewing, whose collegiate career ended in a stunning loss to the Wildcats in the 1985 national championship game, earned his biggest coaching victory to date against Villanova.

Jessie Govan had 21 points and 11 rebounds, Mac McClung scored 21 points and Georgetown beat No. 17 Villanova 85-73 on Wednesday night, snapping a nine-game losing streak against the Wildcats.

Georgetown (16-10, 6-7 Big East) beat a ranked opponent for the first time since 2017, and Ewing earned his first win against a Top-25 foe in eight tries.

"My son brought that to my attention by the way," Ewing said of the fact that he had yet to take out a ranked team, something he accomplished with regularity as a player.

James Akinjo had 10 points and nine assists as the Hoyas ended a two-game slide and beat Villanova at home for the first time since 2015.

"We have to build on this, it can't be just a one game thing," Ewing said. "We have five more games to go and our dreams and our goals are to make the NCAA Tournament."

Georgetown has missed the last three postseasons.

Villanova (20-7, 11-3) lost consecutive conference games for the first time since realignment in 2013 -- a span of 104 games.

Phil Booth had 26 points, and Eric Paschall added 16 as Villanova lost for the third time in four conference games after starting 10-0 in Big East play. Colin Gillespie scored 13 points after having a career-high 30 in the teams' first meeting.

The Hoyas took a 42-32 lead into halftime after shooting 7 of 18 from 3-point distance. McClung scored 17 of his 21 points in the first period and it was his hot start that carried Georgetown early. In the teams' first meeting, he had a poor performance, going 2 for 11 from the field and finishing with four points, well below his average of 13.

"We knew he was much better than how he played against us the first time," Villanova coach Jay Wright said.

"That allowed him to get it going, and you know, a guy like that, he's a born scorer once he gets it going. It's hard to stop."

Villanova cut the Hoyas' lead to 50-43 after Booth hit a 3-pointer, but Georgetown responded with an 8-0 run as a 3 by Govan pushed the lead to 58-43 with 13:13 left. The Wildcats never got closer than nine the rest of the way.

Georgetown shot 51 percent from the field and held Villanova to just 38 percent. The Hoyas' bench outscored the Wildcats' subs 22-9. Kaleb Johnson led the way for Georgetown with eight points.