KANSAS CITY, Kan. – As a senior at Blue Springs High School two years ago, Camryn Swanson was the Wildcats’ Offensive Player of the Year.
Today, the 5-foot-9 sophomore guard is captain of one of the best community college basketball teams in the nation – ranked as high as No. 4 in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II. Kansas City Kansas Community College currently ranks No. 9 and it might be a lot higher were not the Lady Blue Devils (21-3) playing in the toughest Division II conference in the nation.
In 2016, KCKCC won the NJCAA DII national championship and in each of the past five years a member of the Kansas Jayhawk Conference has finished either first, second or third nationally. For much of this season, the conference boasted three of the top four teams in the nation – No. 1 Johnson County, No. 3 Highland and No. 4 KCKCC. A 74-67 loss to Labette dropped KCKCC to No. 9 only to have the Blue Devils deal No. 3 Highland a 78-72 setback Saturday.
Swanson’s role has been to provide the outside scoring punch on a KCKCC team that is averaging 93 points a game, the second most in the nation in Division II. Averaging 10.8 points per game, Swanson is No. 7 nationally and first in the conference in 3-point goals with 72, an average of 3.0 per game. As a team, the Blue Devils are No. 3 nationally in total 3-pointers with 228, an average of 9.5 per game.
“We knew she was a very talented shot maker when we recruited her and although she’s still a shooter, she’s done a great job of evolving her game on both ends of the court rather than be just a catch-and-shoot player,” KCKCC head coach Joe McKinstry said.
Averaging less than a turnover a game, Swanson is averaging 1.5 assists and 2.1 rebounds.
KCKCC began its recruitment of Swanson after she played on an AAU team coached by then KCKCC assistant Chamissa Anderson.
“Basically, she was just what we were looking for character-wise and academically,” said McKinstry. “Although she only lives 20 miles away, she stayed here on campus this summer, took classes and was in the gym every day working on her game.”
Swanson led the Blue Devils in 3-point shooting as a freshman, netting 41 of 120, and then was named team captain at the start of the 2018-19 season.
“I have not done that in the past but I felt like her character and how she handles herself academically made her a good choice,” McKinstry said. “She has a very quiet demeanor, has done everything we’ve asked, never been a problem and a fantastic teammate. I thought it was important that she represent us as our captain.”
Swanson said she didn’t envision herself as a captain.
“I was a little surprised because I never thought of myself as someone who leads the team,” she said. “A lot of responsibility goes with it but we have a lot of sophomores who accept the same responsibility.”
Swanson started following the KCKCC program the year after the Blue Devils won the 2016 national championship.
“I liked the way Coach Mac ran his program; the way he ran it would give me more opportunities. I wanted to be a part of it.”
And she has been a big part of it. She’s made four or more 3-pointers in nine games this season with a high of seven against Southeast Nebraska. The seven treys are just one off the KCKCC record.
Carrying a 3.8 grade point average, Swanson will receive her associate in liberal arts degree in May.
“I don’t know where I’ll be going to a four-year school but I know I want to keep playing,” she said.
“She has a future,” McKinstry said. “Between her academics and her athletic abilities, she’s going to have her opportunities. Any program that gets her is going to be very lucky to have her.”