UH’s Campbell chooses to make mark on defense
Call it college basketball's ripple effect.
A coaching change in Kentucky last spring eventually led to a big man from Canada finding his way to Hawaii.
About a year ago, Paul Campbell, then a junior college post player at Arkansas Fort-Smith, signed a letter of intent with Winthrop.
But when Kentucky hired Billy Gillispie away from Texas A&M, it set off a series of job shifts at three other schools, including Gregg Marshall leaving Winthrop to fill the vacant post at Wichita State. After everything had shaken out, Campbell was granted a release from his initial commitment and reopened the recruiting process.
Campbell then signed with Hawaii in the spring to be part of yet another coaching change as Bob Nash took over the Rainbow Warrior program.
"It was worth it," Campbell, an academic qualifier out of high school, said of his change of plans. "I'm really glad with my decision."
Now that he's settled in, the 6-foot-10 sophomore from Toronto is working his way into the Rainbow Warriors' frontcourt rotation.
At about 220 pounds, Campbell knows he needs to add some bulk in the weight room to hold his ground in the post at the Division I level, but he's shown flashes of his potential in the Rainbows' practices.
"Obviously he needs to get stronger, but he has instincts," Nash said. "You're born with those or you work on them until they become second nature. ... He competes every time, runs extremely well, wants to be good and works at it."
Nash said Campbell was among the players who performed well in a closed scrimmage with Brigham Young-Hawaii last weekend. The first-year coach is looking for Campbell to grab rebounds and give the Rainbows a defensive presence inside with a long wing span and knack for blocking shots.
The team's interior defense is among the areas Nash is looking to shore up in the days leading up to next week's season opener against San Diego.
"Offensively, I have a couple of moves, but defense is my biggest thing," Campbell said. "I know if I play defense it'll motivate my teammates and it'll just lead to our whole team playing harder."
With Nash aiming to speed up the UH attack, Campbell's ability to run the floor could also work in his favor in pushing for playing time this season.
"Bill (Amis) and Paul are probably our better runners for our bigs," Nash said. "So we'll mix and match and find the best group to get done what we need to get done."
Time is one of the factors working in favor of the Rainbow newcomers, all of whom are freshmen or sophomores. But several figure to be thrown into the mix this season as they'll be counted on to contribute as they develop.
"The good thing with a lot of these guys is we've got three years, but we want to win right now," Nash said. "So we're working hard to get everybody up to speed."