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ND freshman Cameron Biedscheid earning his minutes

Updated: December 29, 2012 6:33AM



SOUTH BEND — Maybe had Cameron Biedscheid waited, he could have been one of those Kentucky guys, one of those one-and-dones, killing time for a year by chasing an NCAA championship before bailing for NBA riches.

But Biedscheid committed to Notre Dame and coach Mike Brey more than two years ago, long before the skinny 6-5 sophomore averaging 18.1 points became a skinny 6-7 senior averaging 31.7 points, and a top-30 recruit. He’s in the same category as UK’s current Fab Four, on a first-name basis with Nerlens Noel, Alex Poythress, Archie Goodwin and Willie Cauley-Stein.

But he’s in an entirely different world. Noel, Poythress and Goodwin are starting for the eighth-ranked Wildcats, who visit the Irish on Thursday. All three are sure to be NBA draft picks after their freshman seasons end. Biedscheid, meanwhile, is just trying to earn 20 measly minutes a game by showing he’s more than just a catch-and-shoot perimeter threat.

Yes, Biedscheid actually came to school to learn.

“Defensive lessons, those are the toughest,” Biedscheid said. “There have been days in practice where Coach Brey will just focus on me — just yell at me, just cuss at me, whatever he has to do — for 20 minutes or 30 minutes straight, watching me the whole practice on defense just to make sure I get everything right.”

Kentucky coach John Calipari lures the nation’s best recruits each year, assuring them starting roles and an express route to the NBA — 15 Wildcats have been drafted in the past three years, including five top-5 picks. Brey, meanwhile, has always preferred “an old team,” stocked with transfers and seniors. He returned all five starters this year, plus Michigan State transfer Garrick Sherman. And he likes to keep a tight rotation, so maybe one freshman a year will get real playing time. Last year, it was Pat Connaughton. This year, it’s Bieidscheid, who broke out of an early slump by hitting 7-of-11 3-pointers the last two games.

But Brey guarantees nothing. Back when he was recruiting Bieidscheid as a sophomore, he told the St. Louis product that he’d get a chance to play right away, up to 25 minutes a game.

“But he didn’t promise it to me,” Bieidscheid said. “He was telling me those can be your minutes if you work hard enough for them.”

And he has. He still needs to take direction from veteran guards Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins, and he still needs to work on defending and moving without the ball. But as Brey put it, “Cam’s in the club.” Freshman or not, he’ll get his minutes — and talk his trash, according to Grant — even against Kentucky. And while Notre Dame’s program might be the polar opposite of Kentucky’s basketball factory — not that Brey doesn’t try for the one-and-done guys — Biedscheid harbors the same dreams as anybody else, even those Kentucky guys.

He simply chose a different — and perhaps longer — route to get there.

“My mind-set is to go to the pros,” he said. “But I’m not feeling like I have to pressure myself (to do it) right now, this very moment, this very year. I’m not going to take 40 or 50 shots just to try to get myself to the NBA. I want us to be a great team and a great program. I feel that helps my chances of going to the NBA.”



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