Reflecting back on this past 2018-19 season, frequent weekend showcases and holiday tournaments helped greatly in me covering the majority of high school teams within Richmond, VA. Some teams came across my way more than others, mainly due to participation in some of the same events I attended to scout. One prime example is The Carmel School (Ruther Glen, VA); a varsity squad I saw about 4 times total during regular season play in the ‘Sleepy Thompson’ and ‘Tri-Cities Classic’ (both December 2018 tournaments). I also saw Carmel a few times during a preseason fall league too. In each showing I observed, Carmel always put up a strong fight whenever they stepped between the lines with a solid core group. Big games would typically happen from different players, as several of their guys had a chance to personally go off for a good performance each night. Still, junior guard Josh Campbell ’20, led the way as one of the team’s go-to guys and most valuable players. In talking to him, however, he clearly sees this past year as one with ‘unfinished business.’ These next few months will be essential preparation of a more satisfying senior campaign.
Carmel definitely didn’t have any cakewalks throughout the winter season, as the Wildcats played close to 30 games and faced notable competition on a nightly basis. They ended with an overall record of 12-16; losing to Carlisle School (Martinsville, VA) in the first round of the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) Division III state tournament. In his own eyes, Campbell sees it all as something to just build upon and use for fuel.
“This season was up and down throughout the year,” Campbell admitted. “We started off hot and then hit a cold streak. We played a really tough schedule and were on the road for about two months from the end of November until late-January. I personally learned a lot because one of our best players from the previous season transferred out. So, I had to step my game up in many areas to try and fill that void. With what we had in our group, I felt we accomplished a lot. Obviously wished it would’ve ended better than a first-round exit in the states. But, that’s just more motivation for next year.”
Motivation always proves as one of the first key steps to success. This ongoing approach by Campbell should make opponents even more concerned about him… considering he exploded as a deadly scoring guard once the keys were handed to him. Playing as a 6’3” prospect with smooth shooting, body control, and toughness, Campbell averaged 17.1 points and 10.2 rebounds per outing, while also knocking down 68 made three-pointers. I had a chance to see one of his most impressive performances: a stat line of 24 points, 17 rebounds, and six assists to beat T.C. Williams at ‘Sleepy Thompson.’ He himself also considers that particular game to be one of his best.
“I feel my personal season went pretty good. I take a lot of pride in doing the little things on the court, like boxing out and rebounding. It was good to reach the 1,000 point mark for my high school career (achieved in November 2018), which was one of my goals. So, overall I was satisfied but there’s always room for improvement.”
Campbell also had a familiar instructor to play under this season… his own dad, Toby Campbell. I first met Coach Campbell back in September 2018 during the Meadowbrook High School Fall League and caught up with him every time we found ourselves in the same gym during the high school season. I respect his coaching demeanor and morals that help his players reach the highest peak of possible success. In Josh’s case, and for pretty much any athlete as the child of a coaching parent, it may have both its pros and cons. We’ve all seen it before in sports. Nevertheless, the Campbell father-son duo brings a likewise passion for the game that ultimately works things out in the long run.
“Playing for my dad… (laughs). Well, it’s definitely a challenge. My dad and I are basically the same person in a lot of things, so that has its ups and downs. He can be hard on me but, in the scheme of things, I know it will pay off. Along with playing for him, I’ve gotten to play for my grandfather as well; he was my dad’s assistant and has been for almost 20 years. So, I’ve had to deal with critiques from both of them, but I wouldn’t ask to play for anyone else than those two guys. I love the style of play they have us execute. It’s very open and gives us a lot of freedom, which many of the guys love the most. In all, playing for those two has made me the player I am today. I owe all of my thanks to them.”
Having both your father and grandfather on the sidelines will definitely make any player held accountable at all times; sounds like Campbell has handled it well. Currently, he’s getting a break from the Carmel program, however, with another (and final) travel season stint competing for Squires Richmond 17u. They have some significant history as Richmond’s first AAU boys’ basketball program; founded in 1987 by Tony Squire. High school teammate and 6’6” standout, Elijah Roye ’20, also plays with Campbell for the Squires.
“Travel ball is going well. I’ve played with Squires Richmond in the past and they’re great. Some guys have recently committed to schools and won’t be playing anymore, which means a lot of us will have to step up. We also can’t wait to go to Orlando for Nationals; listed on our schedule right now. Excited for the amount of coaches that will be there in attendance, not to mention it’s in Florida, where you have nice weather, Disney World, and all of sorts of other cool things to down there.”
Similar to his play at Carmel, it appears that Campbell’s producing in a similar manner this spring when talking about buckets. I saw he had scored 24 points, including three three-pointers, a couple of weeks ago. Aside from his team goals to constantly win, the rising senior also has a primary objective that he personally wants to complete.
“My main goal is to receive an offer this summer, no matter the level. I’ve received interest from Army West Point, Richmond, Virginia Military Institute (VMI), UVA-Wise, Chowan University, Queens University of Charlotte, and Randolph-Macon.”
Once Campbell hopefully earns that next-level playing opportunity and it comes down to making a decision, he’ll know exactly what to look for, in both the basketball aspect and school itself.
“I don’t want to attend a city college, for one. I live right near Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and don’t really like that city vibe. I want a school with basketball tradition though and, for academics, I want a good educational program because I plan to become a teacher.”
Along with his post-high school goals in line, Campbell also already has a full focus on what needs to happen for Carmel’s chances of finishing near the top of VISAA Division III in his final year on school grounds. Like any other player, he wants to go out with a bang once the school season arrives again.
“If there’s anything we (Carmel) need to improve on the most next year, it’s free throws. Those cost us many games this past season; not being able to complete them when needed. If that story was reversed, I think the outcome of many games would have been different and probably a win in our favor. For me, I want to keep improving my strength and defense this summer. Hitting the weights a lot and getting quicker to guard smaller/faster guards on the perimeter will both be important to take my game further.”
Living in the gym consistently to perfect his craft, I’m fully confident that Campbell will accomplish whatever goals he has placed in front of him. He’s in a good spot as a top 2020 returner in the 804 later this year; Carmel looks likely to increase their program success with him and the coaching staff dictating the pace. Off of the court, you can also find Campbell partaking in another sport whenever he comes across some down time.
“Outside of basketball, I enjoy playing golf. Most people say it’s too boring but I find it peaceful and love it.”
I’m sure Campbell will end up playing much more golf when the day arrives to officially hang up his basketball jersey for good. I agree in how it brings peace, while also keeping that physical activity going. Might need to learn the sport myself.
But hang on, where does Josh Campbell see himself in ten years?
“In ten years, I see myself both teaching History and coaching basketball in high school. Hopefully, God will put it in the works for me to come back to Carmel so I can teach and coach at the old stomping grounds. That’d be pretty awesome. I’ve talked to my administration about that so they already know.”
Expect to start hearing more about the Carmel Wildcat soon! College coaches should keep an eye on him from now into the 2019-20 high school season.