Cameron Shelton was a sophomore on the infamous Chino Hills boys basketball team with Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball that went 35-0 and won a CIF Southern Section Open and State championship, along with being recognized national champions by several publications following the 2015-16 season.
Shelton was a solid player off the bench for Chino HIlls, but his transfer to Damien put him in position for a bigger role and more responsibility, and he took the baton and helped Damien to one of its best seasons ever,.
Shelton, a 6-foot-2 junior, averaged 22 points a game and set school records for most points (782) and steals (106) in a season and helped Damien to a remarkable 31-5 record as well as the CIF-SS Open Division consolation title, and a CIF-State Southern California Regional semifinals appearance.
Shelton expected to make a big impact, and knows what great players he surpassed to set the school single-season marks, passing Brian Jackson for the scoring record and Victor Lesley for the assist mark.
“It means a lot to set the Damien single-season scoring record,” Shelton said. “Especially since Damien has had so many great scorers over the years, guys like Jeremy Hemsley, Brian Jackson, Bryce Peters, Chris Reyes and Efrem Leonard.
“All those guys were great scorers and for me to be able to set the record, it feels great. It also says a lot about my teammates, we play a really unselfish brand of basketball and they had no problem with me scoring. They even encouraged me to go get the record when they found out I was close.”
For his efforts, Shelton has been named the San Gabriel Valley Tribune boys basketball player of the year for the 2016-17 season.
“Coming to Damien and having as big an impact as I did feels great,” Shelton said. “All the hard work I put in this summer with the team and the hours in the gym and the weight room certainly paid off.
“I believe that we’re one of the greatest teams in Damien history, if not the greatest, and to be a key contributor is certainly something special.”
While Damien didn’t win the hardware like the 2013 team that won the Division 3AA championship and finished 26-7 or the 2015 squad that won the Division III state championship and finished 29-5, one can make a solid argument the 2017 was still the best ever because of how well it competed in the prestigious Open Division, advancing to the semifinals, and then going on to win the consolation title with a 79-68 win over Eastvale Roosevelt.
Damien earned the top seed in the CIF State Division I playoffs, and performed well before being ousted by eventual champion Corona Centennial, a team it had beat during the Open Division playoffs.
Damien beat more talented programs in a season than any other time in history, and finished ranked 37th in the nation by MaxPreps.
“The season we had is something I expected from day one, so I’m not surprised at all,” Shelton said. “I knew we had a chance to be one of the best teams in the state and we had a great chance to win a championship so I’m definitely not satisfied with the way we ended the season. We wanted more and we’ll be back next year.”
And if there is anything Damien fans learned about Shelton, it’s that they should expect more of the same next year, when Shelton is a senior.
“One thing about me is that I’m extremely passionate about winning, I can’t stand to lose,” Shelton said. “I think out of my three years playing, I’ve played 106 games and I’ve won about 95 of them. Even with my travel ball team, Earl Watson Elite, we don’t really lose games. So everywhere I go I’m all about winning games and coming to Damien and playing for one of the best high school coaches ever (Mike LeDuc), we really saw eye-to-eye which helped the season become much easier because everyday we had the same goal in mind.”