Senior Isaiah Tate (13) shoots for three on last Thursdays senior night win. Photo By Peter Flint

As he walked through the pathway created by cheerleaders and teammates to receive his framed jersey on Senior Night, guard Cam Long had one arm wrapped around his mother, Myrtle, and the other around his brother, Rendell.

Just seven years earlier, Long was involved in an incident in Palm Bay, Fla., that forced his mother to send him more than 850 miles north to live with his brother in Woodbridge. Rendell, Long’s eldest brother by about 15 years, was a former football player at Florida State University and took his troubled sibling into his home as a sophomore in high school.

“Just [Rendell’s] being able to help me move up here and not allowing me to be the knucklehead I was in Florida was really a great thing for me,” Long said. “It just showed how much my brother really loved me.”

During his sophomore season at Freedom High School, Long’s coach and former Mason basketball player Ahmad Dorsett called coach Jim Larranaga with some recruiting advice.

“He told me that he had a sophomore down there that he thought was going to be big time,” Larranaga recalled. “[Long] was 6-foot-4. He was athletic. He could shoot the basketball. And it came during a year that we were going to be graduating all of our guards. Signing a point guard that year was huge for us.”

Following several visits to George Mason University, Long signed with the Patriots during the early signing period and became a member of the basketball team in 2007.

Just three games into his sophomore season at Mason, Long contemplated applying for transfer. He was unhappy with the way he was being used on the court and thought he would have been better suited as a score-first guard.

“Sometimes people think they deserve a lot of things,” Long said. “I thought I was a great player, and I didn’t feel like I was getting the respect that I deserved.”
He approached the coaching staff with his objections on one of the team’s early road trips.

“That is not an uncommon event, for a player to question his decision,” said Larranaga. “But, when [Long] came in to talk me, he told me that he didn’t think that I trusted him. And I told him, ‘Listen, you’re in the starting lineup and you’re playing more than 30 minutes a game. There is no bigger sign of how much confidence I have in you than how much I play you.’”

Long responded: “There is a big difference between playing 30 minutes of my game and playing 30 minutes of [Larranaga’s] game.”

He described the conversation as confusing, but came out with a better understanding of Larranaga.

“I found out that they wanted the same things I wanted,” Long said. “And, after sitting down to talk with them, I felt more free.”

The next evening, on Nov. 22, 2007, in a game against the East Carolina Pirates, Long played a much different basketball game and enjoyed the best game of his early collegiate career, going for 10 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

After making the decision to remain a Patriot for the remainder of his college career, Long began to endure cramping issues during his sophomore and junior seasons. Mason athletic trainer Debi Corbatto tried everything. The coaching staff called people within the NBA to see how they dealt with cramping issues at the professional level and submitted Long to blood tests on a weekly basis, leaving his body feeling weak a majority of the time.

“There was just so much frustration going on with that,” he said. “It was something that you thought would never go away. It took away my aggressiveness during games. I thought the harder I played, the faster the cramps would come.”

Larranaga and Corbatto discovered that one of the underlying issues was a result of poor dieting. There were not enough carbohydrates and protein in his diet so the cramps were a result of his body not having enough energy.

About midway through his junior season, Corbatto began treating Long with a very simple medicine: He was asked to begin eating cups of Jell-O before and at halftime of every game.

“We never could figure out exactly what was causing it,” Long said. “But we just noticed that I was gradually able to play more. It went from 20 minutes to 25 minutes. And now, all of a sudden, I’m playng 35 minutes with no issues. It’s been a huge sigh of relief.”

Over the last four years, Long has put up awe-inspiring numbers. He is on pace to finish his career in the top 15 of nearly every offensive statistical category, most recently surpassing the millenium mark in scoring earlier this season.

After he finishes his career with the Patriots, Long hopes to get an opportunity to continue his basketball career in the NBA.

“The NBA would definitely be a great thing,” Long said. “Like any other basketball player, that has always been my dream.”

His backup plan, however, is very unlike most other basketball players. If basketball does not work out for him in the long run, Long plans to move somewhere warm and take up a career in the real estate business.

For now, though, Long remains the humble leader of the Patriots, as they prepare to challenge for the CAA Conference Tournament championship while both Myrtle and Rendell Long cheer him on from the stands.

Cody Norman will be following the team throughout the conference and NCAA tournament. Follow him on Twitter @Cody_Gaines or check out for the latest men’s basketball coverage.