October 12, 2022
Cameron Swartz is one of several intraconference impact ACC transfers
'If that kid ever goes in the portal, we better be the first phone call she gets'
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When Cameron Swartz entered the transfer portal out of Boston College last spring, the first call she got was from Georgia Tech.
And it wasn’t just because Swartz – who hails from nearby Marietta, Ga. – is a hometown kid for the Yellow Jackets. It was because she had torched Nell Fortner’s side once before. And Fortner has a good memory.
Across four games against Georgia Tech while she was at BC, Swartz averaged 15 points and two assists per-game. In a Feb. 21, 2021 matchup, Swartz dropped 23 points on the Yellow Jackets on 7 of 12 shooting. That’s when she stuck in Fortner’s head.
“She’s just eating our lunch, we never could guard her,” Fortner said Tuesday at the ACC Tip-Off in Charlotte. “It was like, ‘If that kid ever goes in the portal, we better be the first phone call she gets.’”
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Swartz was one of eight ACC players to transfer to another team within the conference this offseason. She’s part of an impactful cohort of talented players that could shape how the standings shake out this season.
She’s joined at Georgia Tech by Bianca Jackson, a former Florida State guard. The Seminoles lost three players to teams within the conference, as post River Baldwin landed at N.C. State and forward Morgan Jones went to Louisville. Swartz’s former BC teammates, Taylor Soule and Clara Ford, took off for Virginia Tech. Soule – a former three-time All-ACC selection – bolsters a Hokies’ roster that has high expectations.
“To me, I see two T. Soules,” Hokies’ point guard Georgia Amoore said of her new teammate. “You have the one on the court who’s absolutely relentless. She runs the floor incredibly. She’s the fastest person I’ve ever seen sprint the floor. But then you have her off the court, and she’s a big softy. You talk about leadership and chemistry, she’s someone that everyone goes to, honestly, and she’s bridged that gap. She’s just an incredible leader and just a great mentor really.”
For a while, players couldn’t transfer inside the conference. And if they did, they had to sit out a year and take a redshirt. New NCAA rules have paved the way for the transfer portal frenzy that seems to happen each offseason now.
The other intra-ACC transfers include Chrislyn Carr, who went from Syracuse to Louisville, and Sam Brunelle, who left Notre Dame to help first-year coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton rebuild a once-proud Virginia program.
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Brunelle is from Ruckersville, Va., which is less than 17 miles north of Charlottesville. She went to UVA games as a kid quite a bit – and often had a job to do there.
“I grew up being a ball girl for UVA women’s basketball games and growing up and watching Chelsea Shine and that era, and I was like, ‘Ooh, I want to be them someday.’ Those are the people I looked up to,” Brunelle said. “So being able to re-establish UVA basketball and get it back to where it should be, it’s exciting. It’s great to walk around campus and hear how people are excited about games and be there for us.”
Being able to play close to home factored into Swartz’s decision to transfer to Georgia Tech too.
She’s spent her college basketball career far away from the Peach State, beginning at Colorado where she endured challenges with SVT, a condition that causes an abnormally fast heartbeat. She then spent the last three years at Boston College, where last season she was named the ACC’s Most Improved Player after averaging 16.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists per-game while shooting 35.5% from behind the arc.
But Swartz also wanted to come to Georgia Tech so she could play the game at the highest level. Swartz has at least one year of eligibility left (she’s petitioning the NCAA for a second) and she wants to play in the NCAA Tournament. She’s watched from afar into what Fortner has built her hometown program into and wants to be part of it.
“That was a huge thing. I mean, I haven’t made it to the tournament yet, and man, that’s a big dream of mine,” Swartz said. “That’s what every college athlete works for – to go to that tournament, to go to that big game. And Nell has done that.”
Fortner’s Georgia Tech teams have made the NCAA Tournament in each of the past two seasons, and even advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2021. They likely would’ve received an invite to the Big Dance in 2020 too, if not for the pandemic.
This season, the Yellow Jackets return just two starters, and might look and play a little differently without the presence of Lorela Cubaj and Lotta-Maj Lahtinen. Stil, Fortner is confident that a player like Swartz can help keep the Yellow Jackets playing well into March.
“She’s a really, really good scorer. She can create her shot; she can get it off in a phone booth,” Fortner said of Swartz. “Being able to bring her back home to finish her career in front of her family – I think it’s exciting for her. But having that kind of scoring opportunity and mentality on the floor is something we really haven’t had.”