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Campbell: PSU staff ‘blew me away with their vision’

Bellwood star transferring from Notre Dame

Alli Campbell, Blair County’s all-time leading scorer in both high school boys and girls basketball, is transferring to Penn State to join Carolyn Kieger’s Lady Lion program.

“I chose Penn State for so many reasons,” Campbell said. “After speaking with the coaching staff, they blew me away with their vision for where the program is headed. Coach Kieger’s history of winning and developing players is so impressive, and I love how they invest in their players and communicate with them.

“They made me feel like I was becoming part of their family. I love central Pennsylvania. It has been so good to me, and I can’t wait to see some familiar faces in the stands as we work toward our goal of winning championships.”

The Bellwood-Antis graduate entered the transfer portal last week following her first season playing for Niele Ivey at Notre Dame. Ivey just concluded her first season with the Irish at 10-10 after taking over for legendary coach Muffet McGraw, who recruited Campbell and visited Bellwood to watch her play in high school.

Campbell said Penn State was a finalist when she was making her college choice as a high school junior.

“Penn State was one of my final schools a few years ago,” Campbell said. “I grew up going to games at the BJC watching Maggie Lucas. I could always picture myself playing there, and now I get that opportunity.”

Campbell played 28 minutes each in Notre Dame’s first two games while rotation players dealt with coronavirus protocol and injuries but saw her playing time decrease dramatically shortly after those games.

She ended up appearing in just six games and only one after Dec. 20 in a three-minute appearance during a 65-60 win over Virginia Tech on Jan. 21.

“I’m not really sure why things didn’t work out at Notre Dame,” Campbell said. “I felt that I competed every day at practice and did everything that I needed to do. It just didn’t work out, and that’s OK. That’s life sometimes. I’m just really excited to come back home and get to work at Penn State.”

Campbell finished the season with 13 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.

She said her lack of playing time did not impact her effort in practice.

“I felt that I earned more playing time in practice as the season went on, but I wasn’t given that opportunity,” Campbell said. “That was Coach Ivey’s decision, and I had to respect it. But things always have a way of working out for the best. I truly believe that.”

Campbell joins a Penn State team that went just 9-15 last season but showed signs of improvement under Kieger, including a victory over Ohio State, which was ranked No. 15 at the time.

“We are really excited to have her closer to home,” Campbell’s father, Travis, said. “I also know that Alli missed watching her sister play (for Bellwood’s junior high team) this year too, so maybe she’ll be able to watch a few of her games next year. We enjoyed our trips to South Bend, but I’m not going to lie, that 30-minute drive to the BJC is going to be really nice.”

Campbell was one of three Notre Dame freshmen to enter the transfer portal following the season.

“I am truly going to miss my teammates at Notre Dame,” Campbell said. “I respected and loved each and every one of them so much, and I believe I earned their respect as well. I wish nothing but the best for them.”

Campbell was leaning toward Penn State when she entered the portal and chose to not ask for other schools to contact her until after she met with Kieger and the Lady Lions. That didn’t stop schools from trying.

“I kind of knew when I entered the portal that Penn State was where I wanted to go, and I hoped the feeling was mutual,” Campbell said. “I really just wanted to focus on talking to Coach Kieger and her staff at first, so I decided to check a box in the portal to not be contacted by other schools, but more than 15 teams still did reach out.”

Campbell finished her high school career with 3,019 points and led Bellwood-Antis to PIAA Class 2A championships in 2018 and 2019.

Now, she’s looking forward to a fresh start at Penn State thanks to the NCAA granting all players this season an extra year of eligibility due to the issues surrounding the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m very thankful we were granted the extra year of eligibility,” Campbell said. “To know that I now have a full four years to play at Penn State, I’m excited to say the least.”

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