Cameron Rundles (D-I Basketball Coach)

Cameron Rundles is an assistant basketball coach for St. Thomas University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Born and raised in the northside of Minneapolis, Rundles grew up right next to Patrick Henry High School, surrounded by family who made him feel welcome and loved.

In that sense, Rundles was a normal kid, but unlike many of his peers, Rundles possessed athletic gifts that would one day bring him to places, both domestically and internationally, that he only read about in school.

For context, by the time he was in middle school, Rundles had developed into a standout basketball player.

He frequently played against kids two to three years his senior, often flummoxing upperclassmen with his innate feel for the game and ability to routinely drill outside shots.

“I was pretty good,” the Minneapolis native humbly admits, but Rundles’ talents were superseded by his love for the game, an affinity that drove him to spend hours in the gym refining his jump shot and learning what it’s like to truly hone a craft.  

“That’s how much I loved the game, and that gave me a lot of confidence, to the point that very early on I knew I could play college basketball at the Division-I level.”

It then came as no surprise that when Rundles entered high school, he was already primed to start on the varsity squad.

But instead of playing across the street for Patrick Henry High School, Rundles enrolled at DeLaSalle, a Twin Cities basketball powerhouse that in four years helped transform Rundles from a promising hoops prospect into a full-fledged Division-I guard who was receiving scholarship offers from several programs around the country.  

Many schools sent scouts to Rundles’ front door in hopes of persuading him to sign a national letter of intent, but Rundles ultimately opted to head west and become part of the University of Montana.

Right away, Rundles’ impact was felt throughout the Big Sky Conference.

After his first season, Rundles was named Freshman of the Year, but after an offseason where the university underwent a coaching change, Rundles’ production dropped off as a sophomore.

Much of this could be attributed to the fact that the new head coach, Wayne Tinkle (who now coaches at Oregon State), adopted a system that favored post play, in turn minimizing the usage rate and overall effectiveness of perimeter players like Rundles.

“Tinkle was a 7-footer, and naturally he wanted to play like he would, and that consisted of throwing the ball in the post and playing at a slower pace,” Rundles says.

“I am a point guard, so I like ball screens and a more free-flowing offense that allows me to make plays for myself and other guys.”

This discrepancy in basketball philosophy ultimately led to Rundles exploring transfer opportunities, which is how he later ended up at Wofford University in South Carolina.

If Wofford seems like an odd landing spot for Rundles, consider that two of his former AAU teammates, Jamar Diggs and Noah Dahlman, were already on the Terriers roster.

Due to NCAA transfer rules, Rundles had to sit out the 2008-09 season, but by the fall of 2009, Wofford was ready to roll out a roster that was ready to compete on a national stage.

In Rundles’ first season, Wofford earned a berth in the NCAA tournament, where they were upended by the Wisconsin Badgers in heartbreaking fashion.

“We were up by 3 points with less than a minute to go,” recalls Rundles of a moment that brought utter disappointment to the Wofford faithful, but also a renewed sense of optimism.

That’s because getting to the NCAA tournament proved the Terriers had a potent combination of players on their roster, and considering that many of the players were coming back for their senior campaigns in 2010-11, expectations were high for the returning squad.

That next year, Wofford struggled during the regular season, but they again won their conference tournament and subsequently an invitation to the NCAA tournament.

In the first round, Wofford was slated to play BYU and their revered superstar, Jimmer Fredette.

A seasoned and experienced Rundles came into that game ready to leave an indelible mark on a national TV audience, and even though he finished the game with 11 points, he and the rest of the Terriers couldn’t withstand the onslaught of Jimmer Fredette, a future NBA player who finished the game with 32 points and 7 assists as BYU eked out an eight-point victory.

“Jimmer was good that night,” Rundles says, his eyes seeming to emit emotions he felt on that fateful evening, which was the last time he donned a college uniform.   

“He [Jimmer] definitely hurt us, but that game and the Wisconsin game the year prior, they were special. Being in the NCAA tournament is special. It’s almost like being a parent. You can’t explain it to somebody else. It’s just something you have to experience for yourself.”

With his college career over, Rundles then shifted his focus to the future.  

Even though he averaged nearly 14 points per game as a senior, he wasn’t selected in the 2011 NBA Draft, but that hardly came as a surprise to the basketball dynamo.

“Like most kids, growing up I wanted to play in the NBA, but I was also a realist,” Rundles reveals.  

“When I got to high school, I didn’t think I would ever go to the NBA; not because I wasn’t a good player, but as a smaller guard, I didn’t think I would have the size to play at that level.”

Still, as a long-time staple of the basketball scene in Minneapolis, over the years Rundles met former college players who went overseas to play professional basketball.  

That alone inspired confidence that Rundles could earn a living as an athlete.

“I used to meticulously study the game of basketball, and I was always around people who played overseas, so at a young age I set my sights more on becoming a professional basketball player, as opposed to focusing solely on becoming an NBA player,” Rundles explains.

“To me, pursuing a career in professional basketball wasn’t about traveling and visiting different countries. I just loved the game so much that the prospect of doing it for a living and it being a part of my everyday life was something that motivated me to work extra hard at my craft.”

As a basketball purist, Rundles may not have concerned himself with the travel and lifestyle playing overseas would bring, but that next fall, Rundles inked a deal with a team in the United Kingdom.

His first season abroad, Rundles was cookin’, his points per game average hovering around 20 for the entire season.

Those gaudy numbers attracted the attention of other teams and set the stage for an eventual decade-long run of professional basketball for Rundles, who spent time in:

Latvia, Ukraine, Hungary, Sweden, Kosovo, Romania, and Belgium.

In fact, Rundles’ performance overseas was so dynamic that in 2018-19 he had ascended to the NBA G-League and enjoyed a brief stint with the Austin Spurs, a team who is one rung below the NBA.

But then, following the conclusion of the 2020-21 season, Rundles’ time as a playmaker on the hardwood reached its denouement.

“Just like that, it was over,” Rundles says, snapping his fingers for emphasis and serving a stark reminder to fellow hoopers and citizens alike that nothing lasts forever.   

Today, Rundles is still actively involved in the game of basketball.

He currently is an assistant coach for St. Thomas University in the Twin Cities, his uniform and ankle braces traded in for a whistle and a clipboard.

That being said, this is not a story of pain and anguish.

Rundles understood as much as anyone that his time as a player had expired; he didn’t need a scout to tell him that his first step was not as explosive as it once was, or that his jumper was just a shade less pure than what it used to be.

But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t miss the game.

“Coaching is awesome, and I truly love it, but it’s the second-best thing that I can ever do on a basketball court because playing is the best,” Rundles shares.

“Even though I am physically not able to play at the professional level anymore, I miss being an athlete. I miss having a job where almost everything I do is centered around the game that I love.”

Fortunately, these days Rundles has little time to reminisce.

He’s now part of a storied basketball program at St. Thomas that is committed to seeing that their switch from D-III to D-I play was justified.

“First and foremost, I want to continue to develop as a father and as a role model for my children because that’s an important job, and I take a lot of pride in that,” Rundles says.

“As for my career, I want to play a small role in helping St. Thomas reach the potential they have, as both a basketball program, and an academic institution.” QS


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