Men’s basketball star Jamal Cain focused on meeting potential

Jamal+Cain+shoots+a+free+throw+against+Eastern+Michigan+on+Oct.+28%2C+2021.+

Photo courtesy of Oakland University Athletics

Jamal Cain shoots a free throw against Eastern Michigan on Oct. 28, 2021.

Matthew Scheidel, Sports Editor

When he was playing for the Marquette Golden Eagles, Jamal Cain was always viewed as someone with a lot of potential. He just needed to find the right fit and the right situation.

But no one, not even Cain himself, thought it was potential of these proportions. 

“My main focus is just trying to get better, just trying to win games,” Cain said. “I knew I was gonna score and I knew I was gonna rebound, but I didn’t know it was gonna be at this magnitude.” 

Cain has been named Horizon League player of the week three times already this season, averaging a double-double per game [21.3 points and 10.5 rebounds]. He’s become one of the more talked about players in all of college basketball.

“So right now I’m kind of more — I wouldn’t say focused on [all of the recognition] — but of course, I’m competitive. So I want to be at the highest point of it,” Cain said. “So now I’m more focused on that— more focused on how I go into the game, and stuff like that, just to help those things. Because now that I have some national recognition, you’re gonna have to do the right things with that.”

Cain has also been viewed as a transfer portal success story. A lot of athletes will look to transfer from a mid major school to a power 5 school, but he did the exact opposite. Cain’s advice for players looking to enter the portal is “make sure you know you’re entering a good situation.”

“A lot of teams have different agendas and certain players that want the ball and stuff like that,” he said. “So just make sure you have a good relationship with the coach and the players beforehand — because the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.”

Cain, a native of Pontiac, said that while coming home definitely played a huge factor in him transferring to Oakland, there’s a bit more to it than that.

“Some of my former teammates were talking about leaving as well,” Cain said. “I’ve been there with Theo John, Greg Elliot, Koby McEwen. I’ve been with those guys for almost [three or four] years, so with them saying they were gonna leave, that kind of influenced my decision more.”

Head Coach Greg Kampe has gushed about Cain since the preseason, even once saying that watching him practice for the first time “was like watching Kendrick Nunn’s first practice — you just know with those guys.” Cain said Kampe’s belief in him has increased his confidence.

“Kampe has had that belief in me since he laid eyes on me — before I even said I was going to be a Grizzly,” he said. “That’s all the players really ask for when they’re trying to chase the dream of playing in the NBA, is a coach that believes in them. I can’t thank him more for it.”

Off the court, Cain said he is up for anything, however he is currently honed in on basketball.

“I really don’t do too much right now, man,” Cain said. “I’m kind of locked in right now.”

Another development this season has been the relationship between Cain and star point guard Jalen Moore. The defining play of Oakland’s season to this point has been the lob from Moore to Cain. 

“J-Mo was actually one of the first guys I talked to,” Cain said. “He just told me [the team is] excited for me to be here and we were gonna win a lot of games, and our relationship has only grown bigger. It just happened that I’m that lob threat that he always wanted, [and I’ve] always wanted a point guard that can throw the lob, so it kind of matches perfectly. So we just build that chemistry on the court and off the court, it’s only gonna get better.”