Campbell, a junior guard/forward on the basketball team, has set all kinds of records for Cal State Fullerton's track and field team. He has also been honored as the Big West Male athlete of the year in track and field, but that's not his motivation. He's a basketball junkie and nothing is going to stop him from playing, certainly not a major sprain suffered early in the season.
TitanCentral.com sat down with Brandon for 10 minutes after a recent practice.
TitanCentral.com: Thanks for talking to us Brandon. Most people realize you sprained your ankle during a scrimmage before the regular season started but don't really know the severity. How is the that coming along? Are you playing at or near 100% yet?
Brandon Campbell: It's killing me everyday but I just have to play through it. I'd say I'm about 75-80%.
Campbell is more known for track but his passion is basketball.
TC: Is this an injury that can get better over time?
Campbell: Probably not with me playing on it. It's better than it was ... I mean, it might not be better but I'm just used to the pain.
TC: That's really surprising because when you're playing it seems like you're going full speed and there are times when no one can stop you. It certainly hasn't affected your leaping ability.
Campbell: Nah, I get such an adrenaline rush and I can let it stop me. If I step onto the court than I have to play.
TC: You and Josh Fischer are all that's left of the Bob Hawking era. What's your take on the differences between the Coach Hawking and Coach Daniels?
Campbell: I really don't see too much of a difference but there's more teaching going on now. It's much more intense in practice now. They're similar in a ways, like they both want to win real bad. Coach Daniels has a whole lot more plays. With Coach Hawking you had a few plays but Coach Daniels, almost every play has a few wrinkles put into it for different situations, which I think is good. A lot of times when you run a play, people are going to scout you and they're going to know your plays, so you've got to add a little wrinkle just to break it off in case that plays not going right.
TC: Brandon, you're a track star and probably the best track athlete to come through Cal State Fullerton. Obviously you enjoy track but what is your true passion, track or basketball?
Campbell: [smiles] Of course it's basketball. With track, it's obvious I could have gone pro by now but I love basketball so much I'm going to wait to see... I'm not going to put my ball down, I'm going to make something else make me put my ball down.
TC: Is that why you're so determined to play right now instead of letting the ankle fully heal?
Campbell: Yeah. I can't sit back and watch anymore. I had to sit out a year in high school and had to watch then and I had to sit out last year ... I'm not watching anymore basketball
TC: Are you able to practice every day or are you able to rest it now and then?
Campbell goes up for a block... and no, he is not being boosted by a teammate.
Campbell: I go as much as I can. I try to play through it but they know when I'm in pain and they'll tell me to sit out ... but I'm going to give it my all. If someone wants to force me to sit out then that's the way I want it to happen. I don't want sit out and baby myself. I want to put the pressure on myself but sometimes that's not being smart. A lot of times Coach Daniels looks out for me because he knows I'm going to give it my all and I'm going to want to play regardless. I feel like I need practice but if he didn't sit me as much as he does I would have probably hurt myself even more by now.
TC: You've played with Ike Harmon your first couple years and now you're playing with Pape Sow. Both seem to be the go to guys. Can you compare playing with the two?
Campbell: I see a whole lot of Ike in Pape. He's aggressive like Ike, plays hard like Ike, athletic like Ike but you're talking about two different positions. Ike played the four but he really wasn't a four. Pape is a true four but he has guard skills. I see a lot of similarities just because the play so hard.
TC: Coach Daniels has made you the captain of the team. What does this mean to you and does this make you take a more active leadership role on the team, more vocal on the court?
Campbell: I'm not really vocal. I just try to lead by example and I try to play as hard as I can. I'm trying to make the transition to talk a little more, have more of a relationship with my teammates ... it gets me frustrated at times because it makes me feel like I'm not doing my job. Coach Daniels has had enough faith in me to take on this role and I try to live up to every challenge, so right now, it's coming around, it's getting better.
TC: Where does the team need to improve?
Campbell: We need to play hard all the time and not in spurts. We play hard in spurts but sometimes it's too late. I think everybody on our team can score. I think our main focus should be defense, play defense hard. If we're going to slack off on anything, slack off on offense. The offense is going to come just because everybody can do so many things offensively, it's not really the problem. We do a lot of things well but we need to play more defense as a team, myself included. I'm still not clear with everything so it's hard for me to help someone else.
TC: You're not talking about the effort on the court are you?
Campbell: No. The effort is great. We've got to be smart. We have to be smarter in certain situations. I'm not going to knock anyone on the team because everybody plays hard. We're all athletes but we have to get aspect of the games which turns us into basketball players and that's being smart. If everybody learns their roles and takes the time to study the game I think everything will pick up.
TC: The exhibitions are now over and it's time to start Big West play. Is this kind of a wake up call now? Is there more excitement in the air?
Campbell: Yeah. Totally excited. We do a lot of talking and that's what I feel is good about the team. We communicate with each other well, we tell each other when things aren't going right and what things we need to do. We can sit back and think, like, let's just try to do well in conference. But we want to win. We can't settle for second best or else we're going to get second best. We want to be the best. We want a Big West championship. People on the outside might think that's impossible but they're not on the court. The only people who are in that circle are the guys in the locker room. We can't worry about everybody else. We want a Big West title and that's what we're going for.
TC: Was the Loyola Marymount game the teams best all-round performance?
Campbell: LMU was our best home game but I think the best game we played as a team, I would say, was on the road at Wyoming. Even though we lost, it was just the way we were clicking in that first half. If we can play every game like we played that first half I can't see anybody in our conference stopping us.
TC: Has the team bought more into Danny's system this year as compared to last year?
Campbell: Yeah. We still haven't bought into it as much as we should but a lot more than last year. It's obvious. It my not be obvious from the fan's [perspective] but it's much better than last year.
TC: Thanks Brandon. Good luck on Thursday.