Marcus Campbell: A Summer to Remember

Like all college basketball players, Marcus Campbell used the summer to improve his game on the basketball court.<P> However, not everybody was as fortunate to work out with one of the elite performers of the National Basketball Association.

For the better half of the offseason, Campbell spent countless hours training with Tracy McGrady, one of his life-long best friends. The pair of Florida natives attended the same high schools, one year in the Sunshine State and another at traditional hoops power Mount Zion Christian Academy in Durham, N.C.

"For much of the summer, I went to Orlando to be with some family and work out with one of my best friends, Tracy McGrady. I've been knowing Tracy ever since seventh grade," said Campbell. "I'm originally from Florida and Winter Haven and he was just five minutes up the road. The reason I chose to go to his high school in 10th grade was because I looked up to him. He was one of the best players in our area. He has always looked out for me and made sure I was working hard. He's a good person and taught me a lot, on and off the court."

While McGrady was helping Campbell from a physical standpoint, the first-year Houston Rocket was aiding his friend, more importantly, from a mental aspect.

"He was just showing me more or less about conditioning and enduring workouts," said Campbell. "Normally, my day started off lifting weights about an hour and then run steps, or get in the gym and work on my game. Basically what Tracy was telling me it's all mental as far as I'm concerned.

"I just have to have a better aspect going into every game. I just have to go out there and play while not worrying about other things. I just have to play as hard as I can. Coming from Tracy, I take that advice strongly. To me, he's the best player in the league (NBA) so he knows what it's about."

After Campbell was finished receiving help on the court, he managed to help others as well.

Along with current Bulldog freshman Charles Rhodes, Campbell toured with the SCORE International College All-Stars in the Dominican Republic.

Guiding SCORE to a 4-0 mark, the 7-foot and 270-pound senior team-highs of 17.5 points, 12.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks.

However, Campbell's biggest lesson occurred off the court via the team's missionary work.

"I worked out with (Tracy McGrady) most of the summer before going to the Dominican Republic, which I really didn't know it was a half-missionary trip," said Campbell. "But it touched me in a very good way to see how fortunate we are to have the things we do.

"That really gave me a good sense of what I have. A lot of people there are in a worse situation than we will ever be in our lives. I think every person needs that reality check and the chance to help others."

Entering his final season in Starkville, Campbell will once again be in the spotlight. With his size in the post, Campbell realizes the pressure of being a senior as well as being a critical part of State's success this season.

But he also admits the Bulldogs could have a very special season. As one of five seniors returning, Campbell likes the Bulldog roster from top to bottom. "The thing I think makes us better is we are deeper," said Campbell. "We are deeper than anytime before, at least since I've been here. That's why I think we can be one of the best teams in the country because we can go so deep on our bench. I think it's the most talented team I've been on." Despite November just getting cranked up, so will the Bulldogs in a few days. With the earlier-than-normal start via the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, Campbell knows the Bulldogs have to be quick to adjust.

"The only negative I see is not having that valuable practice time that we need," said Campbell. "Starting so quick this year, it's hard for the new players to get a hands-on experience in practice. That will be hard but also a chance for us to learn more on the run. You have to learn quick."

And facing tough situations is nothing new for Campbell and his teammates. Showing up to practice and games with a workman-like attitude has been instilled since they all arrived to the program.

The benefits of hard work should be unveiled again this season. Campbell also strongly believes the players will continue to reap the rewards well after their careers on the court conclude.

"I will look back at the good memories, winning championships," said Campbell. "But I've also learned that nothing is given to you at Mississippi State. Here we are taught nothing comes easy and if you want it, you have to go and earn it. No one is going to give you anything.

"And our coaches have drilled that into our heads. It's turned us into better players and better people. Coach Stansbury and the staff want, in turn, to make you a better person. They teach you the value of work and without work, you don't get anything. Nothing is given but all is earned. I believe that is the biggest lesson I've learned at Mississippi State."


Paul Jones is a writer for the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website. Paul, also a sports writer for the Columbus Commercial Dispatch, can be reached by email at pjones@cdispatch.com.

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