The basketball season is closing in and Paris Roberts-Campbell is preparing for his senior leadership role with the team. East Carolina graduated Akeem Richmond and Petar Torlak, leaving Roberts-Campbell as one of the team’s go-to leaders.
Roberts-Campbell has been a leader on the team in the past. Last season, he was more of a leader by example and Richmond was the vocal one. Without Richmond, though, Roberts-Campbell is going to be forced to step out of his shell a bit and become more vocal, too.
“I’m trying to be more vocal here on the court and off the court,” said Roberts-Campbell. “Last year I was more of a leader by actions and I tried to let Akeem lead with his voice, but this year they want me to step up and lead with my voice more.”
Head coach Jeff Lebo has already noticed that the quiet Roberts-Campbell is moving over to make way for the vocal leader he’s looking for.
“He’s getting better at it,” said Lebo. “It’s not really his personality, but he’s getting better. I told him, ‘when you say something Paris, these guys listen to you because you’re not constantly saying it all the time.’ It brings more meaning to it. He’s a guy that’s been through the wars.”
Roberts-Campbell joined the team in 2011, but he had plenty of experience as a leader even before that. In high school at United Faith Christian Academy in Charlotte, he led his team to a championship season his senior year.
In a Pirate uniform, Roberts-Campbell has played in all 100 games through his first three years. He’s seen first-hand the tremendous evolution of the team and the entire program. The squad that will take the court on Nov. 14 versus North Carolina Wesleyan is nothing like the one that defeated Milligan 101-45 on Nov. 11, 2011 in Roberts-Campbell’s first game at ECU.
In fact, the team’s a lot different than it was less than a year ago. The Pirates had players dropping left and right with injuries, which forced the players to take on extra minutes and, in Roberts-Campbell’s case, play other positions.
“I think we went from looking at rock bottom last year with all the injuries and guys having to play different positions to finally having a real team,” said Roberts-Campbell. “We’re about 15 deep with a lot of speed. Guys can take breaks. I think that’s something that wore me down last year.”
The experience helped him as a player by forcing him to become more versatile and, after that, there’s not a whole lot that can happen this year that Roberts-Campbell isn’t prepared for.
“It really helps me,” said Roberts-Campbell. “I got stronger and I got smarter. I know when I go into the paint, I know what I’m looking for. If for any case I switch onto a big man, I know how to guard him a bit better. I’m one of the strongest on the team so I think the versatility will help me.”
Because of everything he’s experienced during his time at ECU, there’s nothing that Roberts-Campbell can come across that he can’t handle. That may be the most important of all his leadership qualities.