Improved Kameron McGusty brings vital leadership to Miami basketball

Kameron McGusty handles the ball at the top of the key during Miami's game against UCF on Saturday, ... at the Watsco Center.
Kameron McGusty handles the ball at the top of the key during Miami's game against UCF on Saturday, Nov. 13 at the Watsco Center. Photo credit: Josh Halper

A hurricane is brewing in Coral Gables, as the red-hot Canes (10-3, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) have rattled off six straight wins, three of which were against significant Power Five opponents in Penn State, Clemson and NC State.

One driving force behind Miami’s recent success has been the leadership of veteran guard Kameron McGusty, who has averaged 19.6 points per game over a five-game span. The redshirt senior is also coming off an efficient 27-point performance against Stetson, a performance in which he shot 75% from both the field and from deep.

“I just think he got in a very good rhythm and got some really good looks,” Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said after McGusty’s showing against Stetson. “We had a couple of offensive rebounds, kick-out threes for him and then, against the zone, we were able to find him.”

Returning to Coral Gables for a fifth collegiate season was not always the plan for McGusty, however. The redshirt senior guard added his name to the 2021 NBA Draft, concluding a successful 2020–21 season in which he averaged 13.3 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.

While McGusty withdrew his name from the draft and announced his return for one final season at Miami, he gained valuable knowledge throughout the process from professional scouts and management.

“I gathered a lot of good information about my game currently and the things that I could do to improve my game and what would translate to the next level and what wouldn’t,” McGusty said. “[I was told to become] a little more consistent on my 3-point percentage … [They also wanted me to] guard four positions because of my size and versatility.”

Through the first 12 games of his redshirt senior season, McGusty has improved in these areas of his game; his 3-point percentage has jumped from 32% last season to 39% this season, and he often takes on the task of guarding opposing teams’ best offensive wing players.

“Kam has always been a great guard,” Miami guard Isaiah Wong said. “He’s a great shot creator and he can get to his spots … He’s doing a great job right now.”

The former Oklahoma transfer’s leadership abilities were challenged just weeks ago after a rough showing in the ESPN Events Invitational; Miami finished the Thanksgiving weekend tournament with a disappointing record of 1-2.

“When we played in Orlando, we got beat up a little bit,” McGusty said. “We needed that; I think that helped us a lot. I’m a big believer that we don’t lose games; we take it as a lesson … Any time we play a game, we go back to the drawing board and watch the film and we figure out what we need to do better.”

McGusty’s leadership became more needed than ever against ACC opponent Clemson in a late comeback win. These leadership qualities will be vital to the Hurricanes as they enter the thick of their conference schedule.