Player of the Year

The Event Staff, Jamestown High School’s student rooting section, came prepared for the final regular-season boys basketball game of the 2012-13 season.

Yeah, the kids brought their enthusiasm and did their best to get under the skin of visiting Orchard Park, but there was something new in their repertoire – Tommy Campion cardboard cutouts, retro-style. The large images, which were held aloft by several of his friends, featured Campion, the team’s lone senior, when he was about 5 years old.

There is no truth to the rumor, however, that he has been part of the Red Raiders’ program that long.

It just seems that way.

Actually, it was rather fitting that on Senior Night, Campion was the only 12th-grader on the roster. After all, his performance, both on and off the court, have put him in a class by himself, which earned him Post-Journal Player of the Year honors for the second straight year.

“Tommy was one of the most dedicated players I’ve coach, just a true role model for the younger kids,” Jamestown coach Ben Drake said.

A four-year varsity player, Campion was part of three Section 6 Class AA championship teams and finished his career in the top 10 of numerous statistical categories, including points (1,145, No. 5) and 3-pointers (149, No. 3). This season he averaged 21.2 points, 3.0 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals. Along the way, he was named second-team all-Western New York, all-Erie County Interscholastic Conference and ECIC Division 1 co-Most Valuable Player, as well as being selected to the Basketball Coaches Association of New York Top 50.

“He didn’t kill people with his athleticism,” Drake said. “He just, through a lot of hours in the gym, turned himself into a very good player. This year was his best year. He was a leader and, obviously, our best offensive player. If we freed him up and put him in the right position, he would come up with buckets. He was tough to defend.”

That was especially true during one memorable night in February against Lancaster when he scored a career-high 40 points, including 21 in the third quarter, to reach the 1,000 career milestone.

Such gaudy numbers weren’t necessarily an expectation when Campion became a varsity player as a freshman. In fact, when the Red Raiders played in the sectional title game at Buffalo State, Drake told his precocious guard that “when you get out there, you’re not allowed to shoot.

“He thought I was crazy,” Drake said. ” … But from having the ‘red light’ to three years later leading us to a sectional championship and, at times, putting us on his back, tells all you need to know about the time he put in the gym.”

In other words, Campion, who will continue his academic and athletic career at Hobart, is the standard by which future Red Raiders will be judged.

“The kid never missed a workout in five years of playing high school basketball,” Drake said. “And not only was he present, but he was also there to get better. I don’t think there was ever a time when I had to get on Tommy for not working hard. He was self-motivated and he wanted it.”