By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Unlike many true freshman collegians, Cam Shannon’s athletic shirt is not red. His jersey is the maroon or white color worn by those on the active roster for Concord University.
The freshman from Beckley has been paying his dues on the basketball court, and his playing time has increased in due course.
A 6-foot-2 guard, Shannon has played in 12 of Concord’s 17 games and started the last four contests.
His highest scoring total, 10 points, came in Thursday’s 71-63 loss at Wheeling Jesuit, in which he logged 16 minutes on the court. He played 26 minutes at Seton Hill on Jan. 26.
Concord (10-7) starts off next week with back-to-back home games. West Virginia Wesleyan visits the Carter Center on Monday and Alderson-Broaddus makes up a postponed game on Tuesday night.
Shannon talked about the talent difference between high school and the West Virginia Conference being the most difficult part of his transition to college ball.
“The toughest part is, in high school, you don’t play a lot of good teams,” he said. “You might play one or two (in) the season.”
“But in college, everybody’s good. You can’t take any team lightly. You’ve got to come and play, every night, because there’s a whole bunch of athletes, same as me in my high school. There’s a whole bunch of them.”
The intense practices run by Concord head coach Kent McBride has helped him get used to the level of play. Shannon also has bought into McBride’s often-stated concept that competition in practice improves everyone on the squad.
“It only made me better,” he said. “We’re practicing hard, going hard against each other, to make each other better. I don’t expect anything less than that.”
“Hard-nosed” is the term he used to describe the practice persona of McBride and assistant coach Todd May. “They’re real hard on you if they see you taking a play off. They’ll get on you for that.
“What they want out of us is not take plays off, to go every possession hard. If you need a blow, just ask for one, and they’ll get you out for a second and they’ll put you right back in.”
Shannon averaged 14.7 points per game and 7.3 rebounds in his senior season last year for the Flying Eagles, and made second-team all-state.
Woodrow Wilson head coach Ron Kidd told Dan Stillwell of The Register-Herald last spring, “Cam was the type of guy we expected a whole lot from, on both ends of the court. He was always a threat to score, and he would play the other team’s best offensive player.”
Kidd also praised Shannon’s leadership. “He brought a tremendous attitude, on and off the court,” the coach said. “He’s an awesome kid.”
Shannon said that when McBride recruited him, “He admired my strength. He said I was physically ready to play at the college level, just because of my strength.”
McBride told The Register-Herald last spring, “He is strong, he is quick, he is athletic. At this level you go up against 22-, sometimes 23-year-old guys, and a lot of times an 18-year-old kid isn’t ready to do that. He is a ready-made player in terms of having the physical tools.”
Shannon worked — and continues to work — on developing that strength. He said he weighed about 160 pounds as a high school freshman, 30 pounds lighter than his current playing weight.
“I work out all the time,” he said. “I worked out all the time in high school. I mean, me and my friends would get together. We didn’t take it lightly. And it’s paying off, I guess.”
His emphasis in high school was perfecting his shots, he said, and he didn’t concentrate much on ball handling.
“But I am now this year, because my role has changed,” he said. “Coach (McBride) usually gets me to play defense, really. And he likes me to drive, and get to the free throw line.”
He’s certainly productive when he gets there. He’s 20 for 20 in free throws this season. In three of his last four games, he’s gone 6 for 6.
He said that rather than spend a year as a redshirt, “I’m just happy that I’m getting my experience now, so next year I’ll come back and I should be even more experienced than what I am now.”
“I just want to grow every year and get better, every single year, until I reach my potential. Like Coach said at the beginning of the season, he wants me to reach my full potential.”
“He said, he’s going to get it out of me, too. That’s what he told me.”
— Contact Tom Bone at