Campbell enjoying breakout season
By Mike London
Salisbury graduate Doug Campbell was sitting at his uncle’s house enjoying the Christmas break when he received a text message from Rio Grande basketball coach Ken French.
“Hey, Doug, congratulations. You’re the Mid-South Conference Player of the Week,” the message read.
Campbell, a junior at Rio Grande, initially thought his leg was being pulled, but when he checked online, there it was.
His face. His stats.
He’d shot 5-for-6 on 3s and scored 22 points, the best game of his college career, in a 91-84 win against Mount Vernon Nazarene. That effort earned him the award.
“I try not to get excited about individual accolades because it all goes through the team, but I was excited and a little shocked,” Campbell said.
Campbell had a strong career at Salisbury for coach Jason Causby, and it was never a shock when he drilled a 3. He made one unbelievable shot in the memorable Salisbury-East Rowan matchup that went double overtime in the 2006 Sam Moir Christmas Classic.
Campbell was all-county three straight years (2005-07), scored 916 points and starred for two CCC regular-season champions.
The 6-foot-1 guard signed with Rio Grande, an NAIA institution in Ohio best known for the 39-0 season it enjoyed in 1952-53. The star of that team, Bevo Francis, averaged 48.3 points a game.
Campbell didn’t play much as a freshman.
“It was a big adjustment for me being away from home and being around some players who were way better than me,” Campbell said. “But I never considered transferring or coming back closer to home because my teammates stuck with me and my coaches stuck with me.”
Campbell was still on the bench as a sophomore, but he worked himself into the rotation, hit some big 3s and contributed 4.3 points a game to a strong team that went 20-11.
There was a game last season against big rival Shawnee State (31 miles away) that Campbell calls the turning point.
He was on the floor at the end for the first time in a close game.
“Being out there at crunch-time, it was kind of a shock at first, but then I was very happy,” Campbell said. “That’s when it hit me that I’d gotten it. Knowing the coaches had faith in me, my confidence started to build.”
Campbell’s junior season has included more increases in confidence and major changes for his school.
Rio graduated four of its top players, including three 1,000-point scorers. For the first time, Campbell is being counted on as a starter and a go-to scorer.
Rio also has moved up from NAIA Division II to Division I. It has switched leagues from the American Mideast to the Mid-South. Now it’s out-of-state road trips will be to Kentucky and West Virginia instead of Pennsylvania and New York.
The travel is a little easier, and that’s a positive.
So far, so good for Campbell in the pre-conference part of the schedule. He’s been in double figures eight times in 12 outings and has topped 20 points on three occasions.
“The coaches tweaked my shot a little, and I listened to their words of wisdom,” Campbell said. “And I worked a lot with my teammate P.J. Rase. He’s one of the best shooters I’ve ever been around.”
Rase is one of the best shooters anywhere. He hit a school-record 10 3-pointers in 24 minutes of a romp against Virginia Intermont earlier this month.
Campbell, who is leaning toward a coaching career, visited his family back home over Christmas. He had a chance to watch cousin Greg Sims and North Rowan beat West Rowan before he had to report back to Ohio.
He’ll look to keep his hot streak going tonight when Rio plays on the road at Ashland University.