MHS Cameron Nwede credits his practice in Pittsburgh for a great season

Malibu High Sharks boys’ basketball coach Richard Harris has pitched his initial idea on how to train senior winger Cameron Nwede out of the gym towards the start of the Sharks’ 2021-22 campaign.

Nwede was just scoring the ball in a dominant manner, the coach said.

“He was a strong adult compared to the other guys,” Harris recalled. “I just told him to go ahead and play basketball; you just get points.

Gone is the hoops player who showed flashes of potential in his first two years at Malibu. Nwede was now a 6-foot-2 player who could drive through and past perimeter players at the paint at any time after spending his junior year away from Malibu.

“He’s someone who can just come down and score whenever he wants,” Harris said. “If he finds himself in a one-on-one situation, he has the advantage.”

Nwede’s solid forays into the hoop, rebounding and skillful shooting were hallmarks of Malibu’s 17-7 season that included two semifinals in the California Interscholastic Federation postseason tournaments. In Malibu’s seven games at the CIF Men’s Basketball Southern Section Championships – 5AA in February and the CIF Men’s Basketball Southern Section Championships – Division V in March, Nwede played in several games during which he scored over 30 points and grabbed a slew of rebounds. He was Malibu’s top bucket in every game in the tournament except the first, a blowout win over Santa Clarita Valley International. In that 91-18 win, Malibu’s top players were taken off the bench early in the game because the Sharks had such a big lead.

Nwede has performed beyond his own expectations this season.

“I exceeded my limits,” he said. “There wasn’t a particular moment in the season where I said, ‘Wow. I’m fine.’ I expect greatness from myself.

Last month, the 18-year-old and team-mate Dean Furlong were two of nine players named to the Citrus Coast League first team. Furlong was also named to the All-CIF Division 5AA team upon completion of Malibu’s semifinals in CIF Tournaments. Nwede, to the astonishment of many, was not.

Harris was confused.

“It was such a mistake,” he said. “Cam was the most dominant player in the playoffs. It was a slap in the face. He was supposed to be picked.

In an email last month, CIF Southern Section assistant commissioner Thom Simmons said All-CIF teams in all sports are selected by nominations and voting by coaches in each division for each sport.

“In the particular sport of basketball, all meetings to nominate, discuss and vote on players are coordinated by the Southern California Basketball Coaches Association (SCIBCA),” Simmons wrote. “The CIF-SS office plays no role in this process other than releasing teams selected by our member school coaches.”

Two players from Bosco Tech, whom Malibu defeated in the quarterfinals of the 5AA Championships; two players from the 5AA Villanova Prep champions, who beat the Sharks in the 5AA semi-finals (the winning Player of the Year was also a Villanova Prep player); two players from Northview; an Estancia player; and two players from Chaffey, who beat the Malibu regional semifinals in the Division V championships, were on the All-CIF team.

Nwede credited his stellar senior season to the time he spent honing his basketball skills while living in Pittsburgh from December 2020 to June 2021. He and his mother, Kimmarie Johnson, moved to the city from western Pennsylvania, Johnson’s hometown.

There, Nwede had the opportunity to meet people her mother grew up with and shopped around. A lot. The player and his mother said he would take the train to various gyms and walk to others. Nwede did not appreciate these walks for training in cold weather.

“It tested my motivation,” he said. “It was always cold. It pushed me to get better. I wanted my time in the gym to count because I spent so much time in the cold to get there.

Nwede said his mother motivated him as he lifted weights, ran on the treadmill and worked on his ball handling.

“My mom is my biggest supporter and my biggest fan,” he said.

Johnson said Nwede had worked hard and shown his tenacity. Nwede has spent a lot of time fine-tuning his movements on the pitch.

“A lot of my movements have become smoother and more direct,” Nwede said. “I wanted to make sure my moves weren’t wasted.”

Harris coached Malibu for just over four years before retiring before the start of the 2018-19 season, Nwede’s ninth year, to take up a community relations position with the Los Angeles Lakers. He returned to coaching in the spring of 2020. Harris attended a few Malibu games in his two away seasons, so he watched Nwede play. He said Nwede had a promise.

“He would score sometimes, but it just didn’t go together,” Harris said of the young Nwede. “This season was a maxed out version of himself. He has optimized a lot of skills this season. It turned out much better than I expected. He had to work very hard; put in a lot of effort. »

Nwede, who has been playing basketball since sixth grade, said he was able to score the ball as an underclass but took a giant leap in his senior season.

“I was able to be more efficient,” he said. “I’ve built a lot more confidence just because of the number of reps I’ve done of everything. My confidence has been boosted. It’s boosted my skills.

Nwede’s play really shone in a season opener at Toledo High School in West Hills, Harris said.

“We faced top teams, and they couldn’t stop him,” the coach said. “He was strong and aggressive. That’s when I knew we had something.

Nwede said his increased athletic ability impressed his teammates.

“Before, I barely dip,” he said. “This year I had some dunk highlights.”

Nwede splashed several three-pointers in the first half of Malibu’s 64-52 victory over Edgewood in the second round of the Division V championships.

Without Nwede’s hot shot, Harris said, Malibu would have been defeated.

“Edgewood was more skilled than us in some positions, more athletic,” he said. “However, Cam hit those three. They could not overcome this lead. We wouldn’t have won without him. »

Nwede’s two most dominant playoff games were a win over Bosco Tech – 30 or more points and 24 rebounds – in the Division 5AA playoffs and season-ending loss to Chaffey – roughly 40 points and 15 rebounds – in the V Division semi-finals.

Nwede, who expects to play college basketball next season, wants Malibu to have another win under his belt.

“It’s cool to score points, but at the end of the day I want to win,” he said. “I’m a bad loser.”