The terms “complete game” and “video game numbers” are often used too much when describing players who play at a high caliber.
However, if you had to describe Forrest Country Agricultural’s Ashton Campbell, those would be the exact terms to use.
While averaging a double-double per game, Campbell helped lead FCAHS to a district championship and an appearance in the second round of the 4A playoffs, which is what earned him the honor of the PineBeltSPORTS Boys Basketball Player of the Year for the 2019-2020 season.
For FCAHS coach Grayson Timidaiski, Campbell’s year was easily expected.
“Moving into this year from last year, we had high expectations for him,” Timidaiski said. “He definitely didn’t let us down this year. We had high expectations, and we expected them all year. We needed him to help us out in many aspects of the game. He definitely did that for us.”
But if you ask Campbell, you get a different response. The senior said he was just doing his part to help his team win.
“No, (I didn’t expect this type of year) because I didn’t plan on having this kind of year,” Campbell said. “I just go out and do it. (This honor) is a blessing, and I wasn’t expecting it.”
On the year, Campbell averaged 23.3 points per game and 10.2 rebounds per game in which he led the Aggies in both categories. In total, Campbell had 14 double-doubles, which, according to MaxPreps, was the ninth most in the state. At one point, Campbell had a nine-game streak of finishing with a double-double.
“He was our leading rebounder,” Timidaiski said. “At one point, he is one of the top rebounders in the state, and he’s a guard ... he is being that aggressive and is going there to bang on the boards and wants the ball and is trying to get second or third chance opportunities.”
Campbell recorded a season high of 28 rebounds in a win over Greene County. Along with his rebounds, on that night, Campbell scored 17 points, had five assists, four steals and two blocks.
“Coach is always on us about rebounding,” Campbell said. “I like to rebound. I fight my way in there and get the rebound. It’s an instinct, to be honest.”
Campbell also scored 50 points in a game in a win over Purvis, but he was just one rebound shy of a double-double on that night.
On the season, Campbell also averaged 3.2 assists and 3.3 steals a game.
“He’s not one dimensional,” Timidaiski said. “He can shoot the ball. He can drive it. He passes it. He was our best defender. That’s what makes him so tough to guard and so fun to coach is that he is an all-around player. He can really do it all. It’s not very common to see that, at least on the high school level.”
According to Timidaiski, a huge part of Campbell’s game is his basketball IQ.
“I think besides his athleticism, one of the things that really sets him apart from other players is that his basketball IQ is surreal,” Timidaiski said. “He sees plays developing before they are even there. There is a lot of times he’s about to throw a ball on a fast break and thread the needle between three players. He sees it before it’s even there. He’s not being reactive; he just knows where a player is going to be, and he knows his teammates. He knows how the game is played and is super aggressive.”
According to Campbell, he regularly studies the game and watches basketball in various ways.
“I watch a lot of basketball on YouTube, and I watch a lot of NBA,” Campbell said. “I’ve learned what to do and what not to do. My mentors tell me what I need to work on and what I did wrong, and that’s the stuff I work on.”
According to MaxPreps, Campbell’s scoring averaged ranks 11th best in the state while his rebounding average ranked 17th best and his steals average 13th best.
For Campbell, who is signed with Jones College, he credits a lot of his success to Timidaiski and his teammates.
“Coach (Timidaiski) made me a better player. In my ninth-grade year, I didn’t know anything. He was real with me. He told me what I needed to do. Without (my teammates), I wouldn’t be the player that I am, and without Coach, I wouldn’t be the player that I am, too,” he said.
According to Timidaiski, Campbell has yet to reach his fullest potential on the basketball court.
“He’s a great kid,” Timidaiski said. “He’s one of those players that lets his actions do the talking. He leads by example. He’s just one of those guys that you look at and tell that he is working hard and that he is focused. He’s a quiet leader and a great teammate.
“He’s the best player that I have ever coached. The sky is the limit for him, and he hasn’t even reached his full potential yet. I’m excited to see him play at the next level.”
Coach of the Year: Quenton Loving, North Forrest
Player of the Year: Ashton Campbell, sr., Forrest County AHS
Treylan Smith, sr., Petal; Caleb McGill, sr., Petal; Joseph Holloway, jr., North Forrest; Jay Barnes, jr., Oak Grove; Cameron Brown, sr., Hattiesburg
Nick Walker, sr., Hattiesburg; Dylan Brumfield, jr., Oak Grove; Lucas Cooley, sr., FCAHS; Tyler Bush, jr., Lumberton; Trevon Jessie, jr., Lumberton
Patrick Williamson, jr., Sumrall; Marquise Crosby jr., PCS; Chris Lewis, sr., Hattiesburg; Cleveland Williams, sr., North Forrest; Robert Henry, jr., Lumberton
Blake Roberts, sr., Oak Grove; T.J. Hogan sr., PCS; Ashton Westmoreland, sr., Purvis; Luke Wiest, so., Sacred Heart; Jamar Jenkins, so., Petal