Ountae Campbell Joins the Miners to Add Some Much-Needed Depth
For the majority of the season, UTEP men's basketball head coach Rodney Terry and his squad dealt with a seven-man rotation for most of UTEP's first five games due to their limited amount of depth and players available to play.
But last night, Terry was able to delve a bit deeper into his bench with the announcement that redshirt junior combo guard/forward Ountae Campbell would be joining the team.
Campbell, a walk-on for UTEP, appealed his eligibility to the NCAA and was formally granted to play for the 2018-19 season.
As reported first by Pickaxe Social, Campbell announced his debut for the Miners via social media, to which he joined the Miners against NMSU last night.
Campbell, who is 6-foot-4, joined the squad after following Terry and his staff to UTEP from Fresno State, where he was also a walk-on. He played in seven games as a freshman during the 2015-16 season with the Bulldogs during scrap-up time.
Then he became a starter at Casper Junior College in Wyoming, where he started to receive low Division I interest.
The Los Angeles, Calif. native played 15 minutes in last night's 62-58 loss, where he finished with three points and drew a charge.
What the numbers didn't show is his efficiency on the offensive and defensive side. He filled spots off the bench admirably, while having good spacing, ran the offense like a true veteran and was a vocal leader on and off the bench.
"We need bodies right there so we will take them anyway we can get them," Terry said. "Ountae is a great kid. He’s a kid that is a walk-on that came onto our program two years ago."
Players like Kobe Magee, Evan Gilyard and freshman Jordan Lathon were previously asked to play upwards of 30 minutes per game and rotations were slim. With the addition of Campbell, and mixing in forward Gilles Dekoninick, the Miners will be able to dig deeper in their bench and grant meaningful minutes for their walk-on players.
"[Campbell] and Gilles are both walk-ons for us and they eventually made themselves good practice guys for us," Terry said. "Those guys in their tenure there at Fresno didn’t play a lot for us. They were the guys that came in during the last minutes where they played a minute or two."
Through the Miners' six games, Dekoninick has averaged 10.6 minutes per game, where he usually relieves Paul Thomas at the forward position. Having Campbell in the mix allows Terry to experiment with different rotations and lineups that teams haven't seen.
"To their credit, they are guys that can go in and execute what you ask them to do in a game," Terry said. "Both of those guys are high character kids and you trust them in what you ask them to do on the floor. They’ll continue to give us depth and that’s what we need this season."
Now with an eight/nine man rotation, UTEP will be able to mix it up and give some much-needed rest minutes for their role players. Expect Terry and staff to continue to dive into their bench and work Campbell into the mix to play meaningful minutes in games to come.
Next up, the Miners (2-4) will host NW State on Saturday, Dec. 1 at the Don Haskins Center. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.