By Paul Meadors, Sports Editor
When Clovis West girls basketball coach Craig Campbell speaks – it’s with a purpose.
And when you’re a college coach and Campbell calls about a couple of players to come check out – you listen with intent.
In fact, major college coaches ranging from Texas to Arizona to California’s backyard have flocked to the West Gym in droves to watch the next wave of Eagle greats.
As many as 13 college coaches in September and October have packed up their bags, note pads and iPads to watch Campbell’s players during workouts and practice sessions in a controlled environment, a plan Campbell developed to showcase his player’s talents.
“My goal, quite simply, is to get their education paid for partially or paid in full,” said Campbell, the winner of 10 straight TRAC championships and six Central Section Valley titles since relocating from Reno, Nevada.
Already the benefits have been reaped. Campbell reports that no less than six players currently in his program have been offered a college basketball scholarship, partly due to their exposure during these sessions and the miles and work they put in during the summer months. It’s still early in the recruiting process, but the future for more than a few Clovis West players looks bright.
And get this: None of them are seniors.
NCAA rules state that only seniors can sign a national letter of intent (NLI for the acronym lovers) but colleges can give a verbal offer at any time. And they’re trying to scoop up Clovis West kids as quick as possible.
One of the high-flying juniors is all-state and TRAC player of the year Megan Anderson, a six-foot-one inch shooter with offers from Sacramento State and San Jose State. Anderson welcomes the time in front of the coaches and is eternally grateful for Campbell’s dedication.
“I feel fortunate to have a coach who not only cares about our program and our team today, but is helping us pave our paths for the future,” said Anderson. “I don’t think any high school coach puts in the extra time for the little things like he does.”
Megan also had big sister Emily to help pave the way. Emily, the 2014 Clovis West graduate and two-time Valley champion, who is currently a sophomore at Cal Poly on scholarship, has gone through the process that little sis is about to embark on. And the girls’ father, Nick, has a better grasp of what to expect, even though the process is happening quite quick.
“We were half-way prepared with Emily, but I never thought things would come this fast for Megan,” said Nick who graduated from Cal Poly in 1990 where he played football and met wife Jill. “It blows me away because you never expect this to happen.”
And for the Anderson family, who also have a son, Cole, in the seventh grade at Kastner, it’s about education first, and basketball is considered the golden ticket.
“It’s about the fit and the academics because these kids are all going to have to get jobs,” said Nick. “Ultimately it’s the diploma you’re going to have for the rest of your life.”
And joining the college offer brigade with Megan is Bre’yanna Sanders, who has grown up with Megan since kindergarten and through the Clovis West feeder program. The quick and powerful forward currently holds offers from Arizona State and San Jose State, and her mother and family are more than proud.
“Proud can’t even describe how we feel,” says Tamara Sanders. “We have watched her work so hard since she’s been in the fourth grade. It hasn’t always been an easy ride as she’s struggled here and there but she’s never quit. We are all extremely blessed.”
How could any player not feel blessed? Campbell estimates in the 10 years he’s coached at Clovis West, players have received $1.6 million in athletic scholarship money.
The landscape for college recruiting has changed dramatically over the past years, but it’s still hard work and dedication that lands that coveted college scholarship.
Campbell puts it this way: “Most people have no idea how hard it is to earn a college scholarship. No one gives you $150,000 for being pretty good. Less than five percent of high school seniors earn a full ride Division 1 basketball scholarship and you have about a one percent chance of getting an athletic scholarship at any collegiate level overall.”
And not only is Campbell helping prepare the future for his dedicated players, but his own family as well. His daughter, freshman Madison, has already received a verbal offer from San Jose State University in a phone call on September 29. Yes, college coaches scout players as young as seventh and eighth grade and Madison is already on the radar of some prestigious basketball schools.
Other Clovis West players receiving verbal offers are: Sarah Bates, Sacramento State; Danae Marquez, San Jose State University; and Ashley Cross, Fresno Pacific University.
And Megan Anderson, whose high school career is already at a fast pace, said she loves where she and her teammates are at in life.
“It’s a crazy feeling but it feels great. I really appreciate the opportunity and we all feel really fortunate to have this at this point in our careers.”
All thanks to the hard work on the court and the hours buried in the books – with help from a coach who cares beyond the court.