Senior guard Marchele Campbell is used to practicing and playing with boys. She’s been doing it against her older brothers for about 18 years.
“When she was out there at 4 years old,” said her mom, Peggy Campbell, “she’d say ‘Daddy, tell them this is my court, my driveway, and give me the ball!’”
So when Marchele Campbell started practicing with junior guards Jason Horton and Stefhon Hannah, her parents weren’t surprised.
“She practices with Stefhon and Jason, she knows them all,” said her father, Michael Campbell.
“She’s one of those types of kids that loves the game of basketball and she grew up with three brothers in front of her, so she played with boys all the time.”
When Hannah and Marchele Campbell have time to shoot around together after practice, she said she likes to play with him because their exciting game style is similar and lately he’s teaching her the floater shot.
“She can do a lot,” Hannah said. “As far as scoring, I’ve never seen a girl her size that can score like her. She can score with any big guard out there in college basketball.”
Although they spent most of the summer practicing together, Marchele Campbell said now she and Horton will practice at the arena later in the evening a couple of times a month.
“We do a lot of shooting games,” she said. “It’s a lot of his games he comes up with. Basically we shoot at certain spots and try to get 10 from each spot. The majority of the time I beat him. Then we play one-on-one so he can get his confidence up. I just try to work on my defense with him because he’s so quick.”
Marchele Campbell said she likes to play with Horton and Hannah because of little things she learns from them. Recently, she asked Horton advice on how to stop jumping while passing.
“I think just because they don’t mind shooting with me,” she said. “They know I can shoot and can help them on certain things as far as shooting.
Guys, they’ll always look at you like a girl. But they know I have the capabilities to be good and they always want to help me get better. They’re my closest friends on the team. They’re point guards. We click together.”
So far this season, Marchele Campbell is playing an average of 8.9 minutes per game and is second in 3-point percentage with 45.5 percent. Heading into tonight’s game at No. 13 Baylor, she has scored 41 points, one shy of her total points from last year.
Peggy Campbell said her 5-foot-5 daughter, the shortest on the team, has always been discouraged because of her height, but they’ve always supported her and told her to keep a positive attitude.
“When you have all brothers in your family playing basketball, that’s all she’s ever done,” Peggy Campbell said. “She’s always played basketball with people older than her, so that’s never been a factor, or who she’s playing with, or how tall they are, because we always tell her it’s all about the heart. We tell her to get out there and kick tail.”
Marchele Campbell said she was small growing up, but that didn’t stop her from playing with a team of boys her dad coached and trying to imitate her brother’s style of penetration.
“My dad’s always telling me ‘Stay out by the 3-point and shoot them threes, girl. Don’t run in there and get hurt,’” she said. “That’s why to this day, threes are nothing to me. I can raise a three just like that because all my life I’ve just been practicing over guys. Shooting a three is like a layup or free throw. I’d take that shot over anything.”
When Marchele Campbell is off the bench, expect to see her father standing for every shot, wearing his gold No. 3 jersey. Marchele Campbell said she hears everything her dad yells, especially after a 3-pointer when he yells “Soup.”
“She’s ‘soup’erwoman — for Campbell soup,” he said. “She’s always the shortest, but always the best. And people go for the underdog because they’re small. What I notice is when she gets in the game, people come up and tell us it’s exciting, and it makes them want to come back. That’s how she plays: exciting. So come on back and see her. You ain’t seen nothing yet.”