Campbell found hoops success at EHS


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Moving from Collinsville to Edwardsville while he was in junior high school was a tough adjustment at first for Anthony Campbell, but it paid off in the long run.

A 2008 Edwardsville High School graduate, the 31-year-old Campbell earned All-State honors during his senior basketball season at EHS. He went on to have a successful collegiate career at Austin Peay State University, despite two major knee surgeries.

Campbell grew up in Collinsville and attended Holy Cross Lutheran School. When he was going into eighth grade, his parents made the decision to move to Edwardsville, for education purposes as well as for sports.

He spent one year at Liberty Middle School before going to EHS.

“All of my friends were in Collinsville, and it was a complete ‘pick up and move’ thing, but it was a 100% correct move for our family and for me personally,” Campbell said. “I don’t think I would have been pushed competitively at Collinsville like I was at Edwardsville.”

Campbell spent his first two basketball seasons at EHS playing on the freshman and sophomore levels. That included the 2005-06 season, when the Tigers posted a 30-1 record and claimed regional, sectional and super-sectional titles before losing 65-54 to Chicago Marshall in the quarterfinals of the Class AA state tournament at Peoria Civic Center.

While Campbell didn’t see any varsity action that year, he felt he learned a lot from watching that team, which was led by Dustin Maguire, Spencer Stewart, Joe Allaria and EJ Jones.

“You always want to model yourself after athletes like that,” Campbell said.  “The year before that (2004-05), we had a really good team when Nick Arth was a senior.”

Each week, the Edwardsville Intelligencer will release a “Where Are They Now?” story about former student-athletes from Edwardsville High School or Metro-East Lutheran. If there is a former student-athlete you would like to know about, please e-mail Scott Marion at [email protected]

As a junior in 2006-07, Campbell earned a varsity spot and averaged 5.6 points and 4.8 rebounds in a reserve role.

Edwardsville was 19-9, beating the host Panthers 55-36 in the title game of the Class AA Jerseyville Regional before 51-36 to Decatur Eisenhower in the semifinals of the Springfield Sectional.

The 6-7 Campbell blossomed during his senior season in 2007-08, leading the team in scoring with a 16.6 average and was also the leading rebounder with 9.2 boards per game.

Campbell was selected as second-team All-Metro St. Louis and earned Illinois Basketball Coaches Association third-team Class 3A-4A All-State honors. He was also named Associated Press Class 4A honorable mention All-State and was honorable mention Chicago Tribune All-State.

“I committed to Austin Peay before I ever started a varsity basketball game,” said Campbell, who also earned first-team All-Southwestern Conference honors. “That was a shock to a lot of people, but in the summer in between my sophomore and junior years was huge for me. It was the first time I had made a travel basketball team because I got cut every year before that.

“My junior year I played varsity and I was the sixth man, and I played a lot of minutes. Between my junior and senior years, I started getting a ton of looks from colleges and Austin Peay just felt right for me.”

As a senior at EHS, Campbell took his game to another level, which he credits to Tigers coach Mike Waldo.

“I got a lot of open shots and I learned how to use screens in coach Waldo’s offense,” said Campbell, who quit playing baseball as a sophomore at EHS to concentrate on basketball. “He’s so meticulous and he expects a lot out of you.

“If you’re a college team getting anybody coming out of that program, you’re getting a high-caliber athlete but also a high-caliber person because he breeds good people. He was hard on me, but he knew that I could take it. He knows how to get the most out of each player.”

EHS was 26-3 and lost 57-55 to Southwestern Conference rival O’Fallon in the championship game of the Class 4A Bloomington Sectional. The Tigers beat the host Redbirds 53-45 to win the Alton Regional and beat East Moline 66-37 in the sectional semifinals.

“Heading into that year, we knew that O’Fallon was very good, but we were very good too,” Campbell said. “One of our biggest accomplishments probably happened even before the season started when we played a summer tournament. We had our whole team, including Joe Hines, Brandon Hogg, Ismiah Roundtree, Will Triggs and Richard Siebers.

“We went to the summer jamboree in Carbondale and played McCluer North, which had Torres Roundtree, Anthony Booker and Femi John. Femi John ended up playing for St. Louis U. and Torres Anthony Booker both signed with SIU Carbondale, but Chris Lowery, who was the SIU coach at the time, wanted all three of them and he was there to watch them. We beat them handily, and I think that set the tone for our high school season.”

After graduating from Edwardsville, Campbell moved on to Austin Peay, where he played five seasons, starting 78 of 114 games and averaging 11.9 points and 4.1 rebounds.

His 1,362 points rank near the top of the program’s scoring history, but two knee surgeries and a pair of torn anterior cruciate ligaments (ACLs) limited him to 20 games during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons.

“At the end of my freshman year, I started to figure out college basketball and going into my sophomore year, I was in the best shape of my life,” said Campbell, who averaged 15.5 points and earned second-team All-Ohio Valley Conference honors in 2009-10. “I was having a good start to my junior year and the team was a preseason pick to win the conference.

“We had our 10th game of the year, and we went overtime against Lipscomb, a game that I played 44 minutes. The next day in practice, I just didn’t jump-stop correctly, and I tore my left ACL. I believe I tore my ACL due to fatigue from the minutes I played the night before.”

The injury ended Campbell’s junior season in 2010-11, when he was averaging 13.9 points, and he was granted a redshirt.

Campbell returned as a redshirt junior in 2011-12 and again played in only 10 games. His second knee surgery was the result of re-tearing the ACL in his left knee during practice. Trying to play on it and putting the surgery off, he suffered lateral and medial meniscus tears in a game against Arkansas State on Dec. 5, 2011.

This time, the rehab proved to be much harder, as doctors used the patellar tendon from Campbell’s own knee for the surgery.

“Coming out of my first ACL surgery, I was stronger than I had ever been, but the recovery was a lot tougher the second time around. I still have knee pain to this day,” said Campbell, who played his last three seasons at Austin Peay with former EHS teammate Will Triggs.

“It was only a matter of time until the meniscus tore because I was putting so much strain on it. I was on the baseline trying to guard an opposing player and he made a cut to the right and I pushed off the left leg and it just gave.”

Campbell came back strong as a redshirt senior in 2012-13, averaging 14.6 points and 4.9 rebounds while playing 31 minutes. He also reached one of his primary goals, scoring the 1,000th point of his career in a 108-53 victory over Berea College on Nov. 20, 2012.

“I hadn’t played a full season in two years, and I could have transferred somewhere else to play for my fifth year, but Austin Peay had given me a chance to play Division I basketball and I wanted to see it through,” Campbell said. “I wanted to go to the NCAA tournament after we had lost twice in the conference finals, but we really didn’t have the talent that year to make a run.

“Looking back, I made the right decision to stay there. The 1,000-point club at Austin Peay is a big deal and there are some really good players that went through there. I’m very proud to be up there with those guys.”

Campbell graduated from Austin Peay with a master’s degree in management and an undergraduate degree in international business.

He now works in the medical field as a sports medicine sales representative and has been with Stryker for five years in St. Louis after three years with Smith and Nephew.

“After college, I worked at a trucking company owned by a neighbor, and I was blessed to have a job before I graduated,” Campbell said. “I moved to Chicago and worked for a payroll sales company called ADP. That’s what kind of led to the sales world that I’m in now, and they like athletes as well.”

Campbell manages a territory in St. Louis for Stryker and assists surgeons in the operating room during their soft tissue procedures.

“That includes anything related to a minimally invasive surgery or sports-related injury, such as a rotator cuff tear, labral tears of the hip and the shoulders, as well as ACL tears or meniscal tears,” Campbell said. “We also do Achilles’ tendon surgeries and soft tissue procedures in the foot as well.

“The same challenge that you get in sports is pretty much equal to converting a surgeon to use your product during surgery. It’s hard, but there’s something new every day.”

Campbell and his wife, Aubree Jo, live in Ballwin, Missouri, and have a 2-year-old son, Cruz, and a 2-month-old daughter, Vella.

“I would argue that my wife is the best athlete in the family. She played volleyball at Xavier and was a two-time All-American,” Campbell said.

Campbell’s basketball playing days are over, but he likes to play golf and he tries to keep up with his alma mater.

“You can find me on the golf course when I have some free time, which is rare these days,” Campbell said.

“I still follow Edwardsville basketball and I try to go to the Collinsville Holiday Tournament. Over here in St. Louis, they don’t understand how competitive the Illinois schools are in sports.”



By Harriet