One of the state’s top undergraduate basketball players will head out-of-state to conclude his high school career.
Cam Shorey, a 6-foot-4 junior who led Calais to this year’s Eastern Maine Class C championship game, has been accepted at Phillips Exeter Academy of Exeter, N.H., for the next two years beginning this fall.
Phillips Exeter competes in the New England Prep School Athletic Conference Class A ranks, generally considered one of the top prep school leagues nationwide and known for developing Division I college basketball players.
And that’s a primary reason for Shorey’s decision to transfer, the goal of playing major college basketball.
“I want to play Division I at the highest level I can play,” he said, “and that league is one of the most competitive leagues there is.”
Phillips Exeter also has a strong academic reputation that entered into the family’s decision.
“Cameron’s goal is to play Division I basketball, and his mom’s and my goal is to get him into the best college we can,” said Shorey’s father Kevin, who himself attended a year of prep school at Choate Rosemary Hall of Wallingford, Conn., before going on to Columbia University.
Cam Shorey will leave behind a Calais basketball program that has achieved elite status in recent years under coach Ed Leeman.
The Blue Devils won four consecutive Eastern Maine Class C titles and three state crowns before falling in the regional final to Down East rival Washington Academy of East Machias this year.
Shorey, who played significant minutes for the Blue Devils as a freshman before sitting out the 2008-09 season due to a knee injury, averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots per game this winter as Calais finished the regular season with a 16-2 record good for second place in Eastern C.
He then averaged 22.7 points and 11 rebounds in three tournament games as the Blue Devils defeated Madawaska and Lee Academy before being ousted by Washington Academy, the eventual state champion.
“I certainly don’t begrudge him this opportunity at all,” said Leeman, whose team figured to be one of the favorites in Class C again next season with Shorey in the lineup.
“Selfishly we’d love to have him back, but Cameron has the aspiration of playing Division I basketball, and he’ll be afforded more opportunities for that at that program.”
Shorey first contemplated prep school last summer when he was in Florida playing in an AAU national championship tournament for the MBR under 17 all-star team.
“There were a lot of prep school coaches there talking to kids just like there were college coaches there,” said Shorey, whose brother Cal just completed his freshman season on the basketball team at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.
“One of the college coaches here in Maine, T.J. Maines of Thomas College, heard I might be interested in going to prep school, and he’s a friend of coach [Jay] Tilton at Phillips Exeter, so he called him and that’s how it started.”
Shorey was accepted at both Phillips Exeter and Tabor Academy, a prep school in Massachusetts, before he decided to attend Phillips Exeter, where he will be on full scholarship.
“It was a difficult decision,” said Shorey. “Any time you leave your friends and teammates and teachers it’s tough, but this is nothing bad about Calais, it’s about what’s good about Phillips Exeter.”
Shorey will enter Phillips Exeter as a high school junior under a practice commonly used at New England prep schools known as “reclassifying.”
Under that practice, transferring students typically repeat a year of high school to better prepare themselves for college, but in Shorey’s case that move was made just as much to enable him to get back the year of high school basketball he lost when he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament while playing football for Calais as a sophomore.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity for me to prepare for college, both in the classroom and in basketball,” he said.
Shorey, who played center and power forward at Calais, likely will play shooting guard and forward at prep school, much like he does on his AAU team.
At his height, those positions are where Shorey would project as a potential Division I recruit.
“Now instead of playing a different position for three months out of the year, I’ll be playing the same position 12 months a year for the rest of my life,” he said.
Ironically, Shorey will see plenty of familiar basketball faces in the prep school ranks next winter.
Three graduating Maine high school seniors also plan to take their games to NEPSAC programs, as 2010 Mr. Basketball Indiana Faithfull will attend St. Thomas More of Oakdale, Conn., Gatorade Player of the Year Stefano Mancini will attend Worcester (Mass.) Academy, and 2009 All-Mainer Keegan Hyland of South Portland plans to attend Brewster Academy of Wolfeboro, N.H.