Freshman guard learns new role
Every fall, thousands of recent high school graduates take that huge leap of faith by packing up and moving away to college.
Seven months ago, Paris Roberts-Campbell was in the same boat, moving from his hometown of Charlotte, N.C., to play basketball for ECU.
But, unlike most students, Roberts-Campbell arrived at ECU with a stacked basketball resumé and a skill set that those in the basketball program think will eventually help him become a heavy contributor to success for ECU hoops.
“It’s going real well,” he said of his rookie campaign thus far. “There’s always room for improvement and always things that I can do better, but overall it’s been good.”
Getting comfortable in the college game has been somewhat of a mixed bag for Roberts-Campbell. Through 20 games, he is averaging 17.6 minutes per game, putting up 5.2 points and 1.2 rebounds per contest.
For a young man who was a part of two high school state championship teams and averaged 24 points per game during his senior season of high school, the shift from being the primary scoring option, and learning to be a role player, has at times been a difficult transition.
But he said he’s taking the role shift in stride for the sake of the greater good.
“At first, it affected me a little bit,” Roberts-Campbell said. “It took me a little bit to get used to the role, but I had to do what’s best for the team to win, and if that means taking a smaller role, I’ll do that. I’m just trying to fill my role the best I can.”
As stark as the contrast is between star and sixth man, the 6-foot-3 sharpshooter said the transition from playing high school basketball to Division I basketball has been that much tougher.
On that front, Roberts-Campbell’s numbers tell the story. On the plus side, he has scored in double figures in three games so far this season, including a season-high 17 points against Virginia-Wise on Dec. 31. But, there have also been three games where he failed to get into the scoring column and he’s shooting just 31 percent from the floor and 30 percent from behind the 3-point line.
“It was a surprise,” he said. “Everyone was faster, bigger and stronger. It took a while to adjust, but we go hard in practice and that helps me get ready for the games.”
Still, Roberts-Campbell and those around him are convinced that these struggles are just something that come with making the jump to the top level of college basketball and won’t last long.
“My teammates have really helped me get better,” he said. “They push me hard in practice, defending me hard and attacking me.”
With that thought, Roberts-Campbell eluded to the aspect that he said has been positive since his first day at ECU: the camaraderie that he has established with his Pirate teammates. He described the team as one big family and credited one teammate in particular, who has taken him under his wing and showed him the ropes of college hoops.
“I’m with Corvonn (Gaines) a lot,” he said. “He’s like a big brother to me and has helped make (the transition) easier.”
This season has been one of learning curves for Roberts-Campbell. But, he said that now being two-thirds of the way through his freshman year, those curves are becoming a little less sharp.
He said the game that was so fast back in November is beginning to slow down for him, a sign that he is becoming accustomed to the level of play in college and is getting poised to become a solid piece of future Pirate success.
As for some of the other adjustments that regular freshmen go through?
Well, he’s still working on that.
“Waking myself up in the morning without my mom was the hardest part,” he said, smiling. “My mom always used to wake me up in the morning, so that’s been kind of tough.”
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