YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


This Freshman Basketball Player Really Jumps Out at You

October 13, 1998|LON EUBANKS

When the Cal State Fullerton men's basketball team takes the floor for its "Midnight Basketball" session to open practice Friday night, spectators shouldn't have trouble spotting newcomer Brandon Campbell.

He'll be the one with the 41 1/2-inch vertical jump--the best on the team.

That's more than three inches better than the jump of junior Ike Harmon, who also spends a lot of time above the rim.

Campbell also has sprinter's speed and can clear seven feet in the high jump.

It's no wonder Titan track and field Coach John Elders and his assistant, Ron Kamaka, who coaches the high jumpers, are already counting the days until the basketball season ends.

"Phenomenal, that's the only word for a vertical jump like that," Kamaka said. "I'm drooling waiting for the opportunity to coach him."

Campbell, a 6-foot-4 freshman from Cardinal Ritter High in St. Louis, won three events last spring in the small-school 2A division of the Missouri state track meet. He was first in the 100 meters in 10.8 seconds, the 200 in 21.7 and the 400 in 48.0. He had better marks in all three events during the regular season, including a 10.6 time in the 100.

He took second in the high jump in the state meet, clearing 6 feet 9 inches. "I was a little tired when it was time for the high jump," he said, smiling. "I had to run those other three events first."

During the regular season, however, Campbell reached 7-1. That was the 13th-best high school effort in the nation last year. The top mark nationally was 7-3 1/3.

Campbell says his speed helps him in basketball as much as his jumping ability. "When I get on a break, I can usually beat most people down the floor," Campbell said.

Point guard Kenroy Jarrett expects Campbell to be a formidable threat on the fast break. "I can beat him in the mile and for three laps, but for anything shorter than that he just runs away from me," Jarrett said.

Campbell averaged 13 points, five rebounds and three steals last season for Cardinal Ritter. However, his high school coach, Preston Thomas, said he put his emphasis on Campbell developing as an all-around player instead of only as a scorer.

Last season also marked Campbell's return to the court after a year's layoff. He was ruled ineligible his

junior year after transferring from Hazlewood (Mo.) Central High.

"Missing that season hurt me a lot," Campbell said. "A lot of colleges were interested in me after my sophomore year, but I think they sort of forgot about me when I didn't play my junior year.

"Then I went to some summer camps before my senior year and when I did well, some [colleges] showed interest in me again. But several of them didn't want to offer me a scholarship until they saw me play as a senior."

Fullerton had no such hesitation and signed him during the early signing period in November.


The baseball team began three weeks of fall practice Monday with the focus on rebuilding the pitching staff.

Fullerton lost its top three starters--Benny Flores, Erasmo Ramirez and Greg Jacobs--to the baseball draft and pitching coach Dave Serrano faces a big challenge coming up with a new rotation.

"It's an inexperienced staff, but we think it still has good potential," Serrano said.

Sophomore Jon Smith was a starter early last season before developing arm and shoulder trouble, and he should be able to return to that role if he remains healthy.

Serrano also is encouraged by the summer-league performances of Kirk Saarloos and Michael Garner, and is considering moving Adam Johnson from the bullpen to the starting rotation. He was the team's top relief pitcher last season as a freshman.

Several others, including Matt Sorenson, a transfer from Cerritos College, and Jason Westemeir, who was injured and was a redshirt last season, will be evaluated as potential starters.


The women's volleyball team is having trouble keeping its starting setter.

Carolyn Kittell, who led Laguna Beach to the Southern Section I-AA title two years ago, left Fullerton after one season last year, transferring to Oklahoma. Last week, Krista Charles, a transfer from Utah Valley State, quit the team after 14 matches and withdrew from school.

"She said it was for personal reasons," Coach Mary Ellen Murchison said.

Los Angeles Times Articles