By Kaleb Carter
Camden Lathos is looking to put it all together and become a complete player. As far as new Conant Cougars coach Matt Walsh is concerned, that’s something that should come sooner rather than later.
“Cam just needs game experience as much as anything, and he’s gaining that right now,” Walsh said. “He’s going to get stronger … he’s learning how to play, he’s gaining confidence and his success is not a surprise. He’s earned it because of the work he puts in behind the scenes.”
Lathos, one of four sophomores seeing significant time for the Cougars, is a 6-5 wing/forward-type who seems at ease on the perimeter and operating in space.
“I’ve got a great coach, got great teammates surrounding me,” Lathos said. “I’ve really enjoyed the experience getting out there as a team.”
After winning 2-of-13 games in a COVID-19-shortened season earlier this year, the Cougars are off to a 2-1 start with wins over Wheaton North (42-36) and Prosser (53-47), and a loss to Glenbrook North (55-37). Wednesday against Prosser, Lathos displayed comfort on the perimeter and in the mid-range, showing off a variety of moves on his way to a game-high 16 points. The lanky Lathos said he wants to improve his defense and become more of an all-around player.
Playing a quick team like Prosser provided the Cougars an opportunity to work more on their man-to-man defense.
“It prepares us for the season, we played more of a trap/pick-up team as opposed to more of an executing team,” Lathos said. “I think it’ll really prepare us for conference.”
Lathos turned 15 in August and is still growing into his frame. Playing in the summer for Big 3 Basketball out of Glen Ellyn and Ignite, Lathos has a well-developed game already for someone of his age.
“He’s physically immature, but sky’s the limit for him,” Walsh said of Lathos. “He’s a high-character kid, he’s a hard worker, he’s just going to keep getting better and better.”
Lathos noted that he’s the only one of the four sophomores on the varsity roster who didn’t play middle school ball together: 6-1 forward Austin Potocnic, 6-0 guard Yusuf Cisse and 6-3 forward Shreyas Talluri all played together before.
Cisse, the starting point guard, looked confident and showed off a skillset that suggests there are good things to come.
“He’s very intelligent, super hard-working kid that is super strong and explosive with great athleticism as a sophomore point guard learning how to run the team,” Walsh said. “He’s just going to get better and better. His potential is through the roof.”
The Cougars also boast returning experience, namely senior Leonard Ahmeti, who knocked down five three-pointers against Prosser. Fellow senior Michael Sheehy showed the ability to sink timely shots from distance, scoring 10 points in the game, 7 coming in the fourth quarter.
Previously the head coach at Schaumburg from 2009-2014, Walsh expects his team — which he admits is undersized compared to many squads they’ll see — to be a hard-nose defensive-oriented squad.
“We want to get stops, string stops together,” Walsh said. “We don’t have great size or strength right now, but rebounding is something that we’re going to stress. We’ve got to rebound the basketball better. Offensively we’ve got some guys that can handle the ball and shoot the ball.”