Open Gym Series Spotlight - Maine’s Dom Campbell
In some ways, things are much the same for Waynflete School and Blue Wave Nation standout Dominick Campbell. Several months ago, the Portland, Maine native was a local big man, emphasis on the "big," with a reputation for his humility and willingness to be active in the community.
In other ways, he is a new man, with new opportunities he once never imagined possible. A summer of basketball and physical transformation completed, he is now one of, if not the, premier recruits in New England's northernmost state.
AAU basketball and associated workouts sometimes take over a player's summer. Campbell hit the circuit and practiced, but it was a transformation of diet and exercise that has allowed him to blossom. To watch him now is to see an athletic and an all-around player, but that is a new iteration of Dom Campbell.
"I lost about 40 pounds," Campbell said. "It was a combination of exercise and nutrition, but I think the nutrition was the biggest thing."
Those results don't come from hopes and wishes. Campbell has a trainer and a meal plan he adheres to. Many disciplined hours were spent in his local Planet Fitness. Challenging, but worth it. It is all part of a work ethic that has turned him into a high-caliber prospect who has NCAA Division I coaches looking into travel up-north this winter.
"Dom is an extremely hard worker," said Robert Pilsbury, Campbell's AAU coach with Blue Wave Nation. "He is dedicated to working on every aspect - ball-handling, shooting, post-work, etc. The most improved part of his game is his body and conditioning. If he doesn't get something the first time, he won't leave the gym until it’s done right."
At 6'9" but with the ability to get up-and-down the court, Campbell is a brute in the post, but also has the agility to attack from the perimeter. And of course, the shooting touch. Campbell is well-positioned to be the prototypical stretch big taking over the game as he has a great stroke and accuracy from three-point range.
"To be honest, the Maine Open Gym was my first good look at him," said ESPN National Recruiting Analyst and NERR Founder Adam Finkelstein. "There had been some buzz from earlier this fall, so I was anxious to see him myself."
"The first thing that jumped out to me was his touch. Not many guys his size have that soft a ball, and that combination gives him a lot of versatile potential offensively. Big men who can stretch the floor are in high demand these days. Big men who can stretch the floor and still give you a scoring threat inside the paint are even more valuable, and he's got that type of talent."
Campbell grew up with the game for a long time. His commitment is more serious recently, putting in time at workouts on skills like catch-and-shoot, or two-ball dribbling drills. The rewards are starting to show. He was the talk of the NERR Open Gym Showcase in Maine. Since then, he has garnered Division I offers from Boston University, Central Connecticut State, and McNeese State.
"I never really thought I could be a Division I player, even though it was my dream. I never really saw it," Campbell said. It wasn't until this past spring while playing in Pennsylvania that he started hearing from Division II schools and realized the possibilities in front of him.
"That's when I started thinking, 'Oh, wow, I can really do something with this.'"
It is still early in the process, but Campbell has a plan on what he will look for in schools. A serious and accomplished student, Campbell is looking for a school that will allow him to pursue his interest in Engineering.
His basketball skills foundation is strong. Pilsbury compares Campbell to Tom Knight, a Dixfield, Maine native with great size and outside shooting ability who played five years at Notre Dame. Perhaps just as importantly, however, are his underlying intangibles.
"Dom is such a great kid," Pilsbury shared. "He wants to have fun, spend time with his friends and give back to the community. He's a very humble kid, and I think that has to do with him having a great family and all their support." Campbell is proud of his efforts in mentoring and engaging the youth players around him.
This has manifested itself in local pride. Maine basketball is not known to be a hotbed of talent, but someone like Campbell, and events like the Open Gym, are aiming to improve such a perception.
"It's a really good community," Campbell said."There's a lot of top-notch players who don't get enough attention. For me, getting all this attention is also bringing attention to Maine, and that is all around a good thing."
Campbell has plenty of time between now and college basketball to keep improving. Pilsbury thinks he needs to be a more vocal leader, but right now, Campbell is trending in the right direction. He has not "arrived," rather, he is scratching the surface of a bright future and needs to keep improving.
Finkelstein notes that right now, his innate size and talent make him no contest for most of his match-ups. Personal development will be critical, but so will be challenging himself competitively.
"From an exposure standpoint, playing and proving himself against other Division I prospects will help take his recruitment to the next level," Finkelstein said."I think it will also help him figure out exactly what his game might look like at that next level too."
"When he faces off against guys who can match up with him, he'll have to figure out things like where he wants the ball, how he can get his own shot, and what he'll need to improve on in order to defend his position."
"As he continues to get his body in the right physical shape, the sky is the limit with his potential and where he will eventually end up," Pilsbury believes.
Campbell agrees. He hopes to transition from a 4/5 to a 3/4 by maintaining the physical and basketball training that has gotten him to this point. His body, his ball-handling, and his goals are ever-changing for the better.
It was in Pennsylvania a few months ago when Campbell got a call from Pilsbury. McNeese State, a Division I school in Lousiana, was expressing interest.
"I remember that moment," Campbell professes. "The excitement of how crazy it was that a Division I program was interested in me. I'll never forget it." That may be true, but if Campbell sticks to his plans, it appears he has many similarly rewarding conversations about his basketball future ahead.