Cam Long is one of two candidates for the NBA draft from the CAA. Photo By Peter Flint

As we near the 2011 NBA draft, America’s focus is on premiere prospects. While Derrick Williams and Kyrie Irving are all over ESPN, lesser-known players are preparing to keep their professional basketball aspirations alive.

One such player is George Mason University’s own Cam Long, the 6-4 guard who led the Patriots to a 27-7 record and a tournament berth.

Long, recognized as a first-team all-CAA selection, will hope to land somewhere in the second round of the draft. has Long going 52nd in the draft, joining Jamie Skeen as two legitimate prospects coming out of the CAA.

Now, why would a team want to select Long, when there are power conference players available? The answer is simple: Long is a perfect bench player who would immediately improve the second unit of any NBA squad.
Long will likely find his niche in the NBA as both a shooter — he shot 43 percent from 3-point range — and as a superb perimeter defender.

If his ability to finish around the basket with both hands translates to the next level, he could turn into a solid offensive player.

Add rebounding and the ability to steal the basketball to the equation, and you have a versatile threat.

Although NBA scouts will inevitably scrutinize his every physical talent, there is one thing that can not be questioned: Long’s mental makeup is exactly what you look for in a potential draft pick.

He is poised even in pressing situations, but still possesses an intense level of competitiveness.

While Long lacks experience against top-flight collegiate teams, he has all the potential to become the next George Hill.

Long also brings to mind players such as Gary Neal and Arron Afflalo.

Recently, mid-major standouts have made a splash in the NBA, and who’s to say Long isn’t next in line?

If the folks in the head offices of NBA franchises realize what the students of Mason already know, then they will not hesitate to select Long.