Campbell snubbed

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Nevada must be stuck in a vacuum.

While looking at the all-state first and second team selections as picked by both the Missouri Sportswriters and the Missouri Coaches associations, to me there was one glaring omission -- Bryan Campbell.

Campbell was the best player I saw this season.

Of course, I don't get a vote (and maybe that's a good thing), but when you have a kid who could not be stopped by anybody all season, who is consistently the best defender on the court, and who also finds ways to elevate the level of play of his teammates on a nightly basis, how does that not qualify for all-state status?

Sure, Campbell didn't have gaudy stats. His 15.1 points per game are solid, but not quite what you'd expect from an all-state selection.

The problem is Campbell was too unselfish. If he wanted to, Campbell could have averaged 25-30 points per game. Nobody was going to stop him.

Coach John McNeley wouldn't have stopped him. The offense consistently ran through Campbell, he touched the ball on nearly every possession. And the 6-1 senior never left the floor, save for the couple of times he was in foul trouble.

The opposing team sure wasn't going to stop him. The games that best describe Campbell's ability were against Webb City, Warrensburg and Mount Vernon, all state playoff teams. There's no arguing those three teams were the best defensively Nevada saw this year.

Campbell averaged 21.2 points per game in the five contests against those three.

Against Webb City, a team with five supposed all-conference selections, Campbell averaged 29 points in two games.

If that's what he can do against the best defenders he faced, imagine what he could have done against the rest of the schedule, if he wanted to.

But Campbell is a nice guy. He cares for his teammates and he desperately wants to win. So rather than chucking up shots all game (by the way, he made 49 percent of his field goal attempts, 41 percent of his 3-pointers), Campbell was content trying to find the best option for his team. Drew Weatherly, James Tumm, Jordan Kerbs, those were the other three main offensive options Nevada used this year. They all got involved each game as much because Campbell wanted them to as anything else.

It also didn't help Campbell's stats that the Tigers played a style of basketball that wasn't conducive to scoring points in bunches.

The Tigers averaged only 47.7 points per game as a team. So even at 15.1, Campbell was scoring nearly 1/3 of Nevada's points. All that on a team that went 17-9, winning 2/3 of their games.

The best argument for the four-year varsity starter is that Warrensburg's Brad Harper was a second team pick, and while Harper is a nice player, he couldn't hold Campbell's jock.

Tomas Brock, of Mount Vernon, was a first team pick in Class 3, and to me, he was the only player Nevada faced this season on Campbell's level. But I wouldn't say Brock was better than Campbell.

But that's the problem when you live and play in Nevada. We're stuck in the boondocks, nowhere near any of the decent-sized population bases in our state.

Joplin and Kansas City are the closest, and the media in those two areas practically ignore Nevada. That means little exposure for Nevada players outside our little vacuum.

It also means no all-state selection for Bryan Campbell.

***

While I'm talking about Tiger basketball, I would like to clear up one potential misunderstanding from my column last week that talked about the boys' banquet.

I mentioned that Drew Weatherly and James Tumm weren't "overly blessed with basketball talent" and some people took that out of the context of the story.

I wasn't saying they are void of talent, simply that they have done more to improve their games through hard work than those who might have more natural athletic ability. You don't play varsity athletics without having talent, and God knows the two were blessed with more talent than I ever was. I have more respect for those two and what they have done with their talent than 99 percent of the athletes I've ever covered. Nevada should be proud to have gentlemen of their make up.

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