Riordan’s Camacho a double-double machine

The double-doubles aren’t unexpected anymore.

Not when Jorge Camacho has done it 16 times in 24 games for the Riordan boys’ basketball team. Not when the 6-foot-7 senior is leading the West Catholic Athletic League in both points (22.3) and rebounds (12.5) per game entering the conference tournament.

He was a complementary player last year, adjusting to a new school and trying to blend in on a Crusaders team that reached the NorCal playoffs behind the play of two-time Examiner boys’ Player of the Year Robert Jones. But now, coaches and teammates say the only surprising thing about Camacho is the kid who draws two defenders as soon as he touches the ball hasn’t gotten more attention from college scouts.

“It’s bothered me, the coaching staff and his friends more than it has him,” Riordan coach Rich Buckner said. “When we talk to him about it, it seems like the next day he’ll get 25 points and 15 rebounds. Instead of getting upset and letting it hurt his play, he just keeps getting better.”

A native of Sonora, Mexico, Camacho’s feel for the game is impressive considering he only picked up a basketball in middle school at the behest of a gym teacher who noticed his height. In the five years since — first in Mexico, then for two years at Alisal High School of Salinas before transferring to Riordan — Camacho has developed into what Buckner calls “everything you look for” in a Division I power forward. He has the soft hands inside, the ability to hit the midrange jumper with regularity, a physical court presence and a knack for being in the right position to pull down rebounds.

After averaging 6.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game last season, however, Camacho knew that while the skills were there, his body was not always willing to cooperate. He began every morning this summer with a 6 a.m. workout and shed 25 pounds, allowing Buckner to leave him on the floor for almost all 32 minutes. And a Riordan team some thought was in for a down year has responded by posting a 15-9 overall record and earning the No. 4 seed in the WCAL tournament.

“I knew I had to be there for my team, to be able to play hard all game,” Camacho said. “I knew this was my last chance, and I didn’t want to waste it.”

The hard work has paid off in dominating stat lines like the 28-point, 18-rebound effort in a 63-61 win over Serra on Jan. 30 and a 30-point, 17 -rebound game in a 62-54 defeat of St. Francis on Feb. 1.

And Camacho, who is being recruited by programs such as Eastern Kentucky, Denver and Weber State, knows his improvement has not gone unnoticed.

“I get frustrated sometimes because I play well against other guys who have gotten scholarships and I’m still waiting for my opportunity,” Camacho said. “But that’s what keeps me in the gym, working hard. I know things will work out.”

melliser@examiner.com

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