CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Alex Campbell is filling the stat sheet for the Island Storm, but what he does that never shows up there might be just as valuable.
The 25-year-old Brampton, Ont., native has been a lockdown defender who has helped the squad improve its ability to defend against penetration this season. The vocal member of the defence said he takes pride in his play when his team doesn't have the ball.
“Especially as the starting point guard of the team, I feel like if I can lead with energy everyone will follow suit,” he said.
Campbell is averaging 12.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists in the Storm’s first three games of the National Basketball League of Canada regular season. The six-foot-three, 200-pound guard’s work on the glass has always been a big component of his game, and rebounding guards fit with head coach Tim Kendrick’s system.
“When the ball goes up, I hit my man, and at my position, I kind of have the size advantage, so I hit my man and just go for it, wherever it is,” Campbell said, noting it is just a mentality and desire to regain or maintain possession. “Just staying hungry for the ball. If the whole team is like that, we’ll lead the league in rebounds.”
And when the squad gets the ball on the defensive end of the floor, it is looking to push the pace and turn boards into easy baskets in transition with an athletic collection of players.
“The faster we get the ball, we’re able to run,” Campbell said. “With this group of guys, we’re able to get it, whoever it is, and just go and push (the ball up the floor).”
Kendrick has been pleased with the early returns from Campbell.
“We couldn't be any happier with him,” he said. “We knew he was a good defender. I didn't know he was that good of a defender.”
Kendrick’s system doesn't rely on specific positions. He doesn’t number players based on positions. He wants guys who are versatile and can play the game.
“Once we get the basketball moving, the traditional point guard spot isn’t as important as it might be in some systems,” Kendrick said. “Once we get into our systems, (Campbell) becomes, I think, even more of a weapon.”
Campbell, who played university ball for the Windsor Lancers, has been a wing most of his life and is still learning all the facets of running the point. He’s described by his coach as eager to learn, a good communicator and teammate.
“He’s very coachable,” Kendrick said. “He realizes he needs to learn things. Not only is he willing, but he wants to do whatever he can to become a better point guard.”
Campbell is embracing the new role and said he is excited to continue to grow in his new squad’s system.
“Coach Kendrick brought me here. He had a certain style of play he wanted to push throughout the season,” Campbell said. “I think it fits my style and the guys he has recruited.”
While Campbell is learning the intricacies of the point he hasn’t abandoned his shooter mentality.
“I want to shoot it, of course, but I have elite shooters around me,” he said. “I don't even mind not shooting. I'll play that (Rajon) Rondo role, get guys involved, rebound, push and get out and run in transition.”
Kendrick said Campbell has hit a couple of huge shots for the team and is not afraid of pressure situations.
“His competitive nature is very good, and he picks his game up in big spots,” he said.
By the numbers
A look at Alex Campbell’s statistics with the Island Storm.
3 games played
31.7 minutes per game
12.3 points per game
10.3 rebounds per game
4.7 assists per game
40 field-goal percentage
33.3 three-point percentage
72.7 free-throw percentage
Did you know? Campbell was drafted second overall in 2016 by the National Basketball League of Canada's Windsor Express, and played eight games there before suiting up with the Saint John Riptide late in the season. He completed his first full professional season in Barcelona, Spain, in 2017-18.
Who – The Island Storm hosts the Cape Breton Highlanders tonight in National Basketball League of Canada action.
When – 7 p.m.
Where – Eastlink Centre.
Previous meeting – Cape Breton defeated the Storm 122-109 on Nov. 17 in the teams’ first games of the season.
Storm guard Alex Campbell said: “(Tonight’s game is) a good measure of how much we improved since then.”
Highlanders – 2-4.
Storm – 2-1.
Next five games (all times Atlantic)
7 p.m. – Cape Breton at Storm.
Friday, Dec. 14
6:30 p.m. – Storm at St. John’s Edge.
Sunday, Dec. 16
1:30 p.m. – Storm at St. John’s Edge.
Friday, Dec. 21
8 p.m. – Storm at Sudbury Five.
Sunday, Dec. 23
3 p.m. – Storm at Windsor Express.