Campbell scored his first collegiate points against Valparaiso Saturday.
Nov. 19, 2013
Editor's note: This is the fifth feature of six on the new players on Ohio's 2013-14 men's basketball roster. Look for a profile of freshman guard Drew Crabtree later this month to wrap up the series.
ATHENS, Ohio - Committing to a school can be a tricky decision for any college athlete.
However, for Ohio freshman forward Antonio Campbell the choice was made clear when he was greeted by a few familiar faces upon his first visit to Ohio.
In high school, Campbell shared the courts of Kentucky with Ohio forwards Treg Setty and Ricardo Johnson. He began his high school basketball career at Holy Cross High School in Covington, Ky. just less than 10 minutes away from Holmes High School, where Johnson got his start on the court.
"We joke a lot about our high school games in the locker room and actually know each other," said Campbell.
Each member of the Kentucky trio received the opportunity to play in the Ohio-Kentucky All-Star Game and dominated on their respective high school teams.
At Holy Cross, Campbell averaged 20.5 points per game, 12 rebounds and five blocks per game during his senior year. He also was named Defensive Player of the Year and Kentucky District Nine Player of the year.
There was no doubt when Campbell made his decision to commit that he would feel right at home and prove to be a force when he made his debut on the Ohio men's basketball team.
"He is a tough player and he is going to be good for us," said Setty. "Being from Kentucky is a completely different experience because basketball is treated differently there than it is here in Ohio. It's more of a lifestyle than anything else and Ricardo and Tony know the level of competition there."
Making the transition to playing basketball at Ohio was not the only adjustment that Campbell had to make in his career.
"During my freshman year of high school I actually was not playing basketball," said Campbell. "I was actually a football player."
Campbell was the starting quarterback for the Holy Cross football team. He suffered an elbow injury the third game of the season that sidelined him for four months.
Campbell would never put a football helmet on again.
"I wasn't planning on playing basketball until I broke my elbow," said Campbell. "I had to get screws in my arm after getting surgery so, I had to give up on football."
During his recovery from his injury, Campbell had a tremendous growth spurt, growing five inches in only four months. He went from a 6-foot-1-inch quarterback to a 6-foot-6 inch forward.
It was not until the end of Campbell's junior year until he started playing AAU basketball for Club Ohio where he got to watch Johnson and Setty play.
Despite only having been exposed to the court for three years, Campbell's career was on the fast track and gained the attention of several Division I programs.
"I ended up picking from 16 Division I offers and I lowered it down to five," said Campbell.
Kent State, Bowling Green, Jacksonville and Northern Kentucky were just a few of the schools vying to bring Campbell onto their roster.
"I chose Ohio because I liked what they were saying about me and how I would fit into the team and it's pretty close to home," said the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky native Campbell.
He plans to utilize his football player build as a defense to opponents on the court at Ohio.
"I have a big butt so I can post up anybody," said Campbell. "Usually when I get in the middle of the lane I seal and put my butt on them so it's kind of hard for the defense to get around it."
His teammates are confident in Campbell's ability to prove himself on the team this year and have welcomed yet another Kentucky player to the roster with open arms.
"It's cool to have somebody here that understands the bragging rights that we have from playing in Kentucky," said Setty. "He is extremely skilled and hard to guard because he is such a big guy and has good touch around the rim. He is fun to be around, embraces his body and who he is. He is a good kid."