New Huskies men’s hoops coach enjoys early basketball debut

Jamie Campbell is settling into his new role as head coach of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s basketball program.

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Jamie Campbell began his apprenticeship – as a future basketball coach – roughly in nappies.

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Yes, he was born in this concert.

I grew up with it.

Live and breathe basketball.

His father, Peter Campbell, coached at both Laurentian University and Wilfrid Laurier University.

“My dad did it for 36 years,” says Campbell, who is settling into his new role as head coach of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s basketball program.

“There are pictures of me, probably two or three years old, on the basketball court. I grew up with it, I don’t know anything else.

Now 36, Campbell joins the Huskies after stints with Ontario Basketball (technical director), Carleton University Ravens (assistant coach), Ottawa Blackjacks (assistant) and Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks ( deputy).

But it was following his father that proved to be an equally valuable experience.

“I liked going out and scouting with him,” Campbell recalls. “I liked going to see people play. It was just something we were doing. It took special people, my mom probably the most. Everyone just became part of our family. That’s how I see it.

“It’s our program, our team. It’s everyone — people who are here now and people who were here before. And you try to have this environment of this loyalty, this trust between the different age groups and the gaps.

“These people came into our lives and they were people who when we were leaving for Christmas, I wasn’t hanging out with my parents. When I was 12, I was hanging out with a bunch of 20-year-old guys.

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Campbell hasn’t been in Saskatoon that long, but he wanted to get here as soon as possible to familiarize himself with the program and the university.

His first impression?


Two team rooms and training gyms?

Double wow.

“You should have seen my face the day I walked into this establishment,” Campbell said. “It was, like, ‘wow.’ It’s ‘wow’ In Canada it’s ‘wow’ It’s been a whirlwind tour, obviously, but it’s been amazing – the support, the enthusiasm from the people, the alumni and the people who have contacted us .

“So much positivity and just coming in here and seeing the kind of support that Huskie Athletics have, as a whole – overwhelming isn’t the right word, but it’s great. It’s not something you see all the time in Canadian university sport. To see a school and a community that supports an athletics program, as is the case here, is amazing to see.

Campbell is a former U Sports athlete, playing basketball at Laurentian and Wilfrid Laurier.

His coaching experience with the Carleton Ravens gave him the chance to work closely with legendary coach Dave Smart, as well as current Ravens head coach Taffe Charles.

“It’s hard to leave people,” Campbell admitted, “who are your great friends and mentors, but when they tell you that you’re ready to do something and that’s what you’ve worked for and you you’re trying to do… When they tell you it’s time to take the next step, it’s time to take the next step.

“We accomplished a lot while I was there and I feel so lucky to have been there and to have been able to learn from Taffe (Charles) and Dave (Smart) and I can name name after name there. -down. It was a great experience for me and it’s people I know who are watching over me, continuing, thankfully in a different conference most of the time, but I look forward to the chance to compete with them whenever we will.

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The Ravens had a strong influence on Campbell.

“To have that ability to work with Dave Smart, I’d say he’s the best Canadian basketball coach in history. You look at the success they’ve had. It changes the way you look at things. You think you’re working hard, but you’re not working hard enough. You think you care, but do you care enough?

“It really changed the way I look at it. Taffe is the first person to win both a men’s and women’s national basketball championship and he brings a different passion and level of competition, care-wise. That’s just something that you feed off of and learn from. Learning from both of them, working with both of them, I consider them both great mentors and friends. It was amazing.”


Campbell will have senior assistant coach Chad Jacobson to lean on with the Huskies.

“For me, that’s a huge help,” Campbell said. “He understands how things are going. Every college is run differently, with admissions, gym time, running camps, community relations, scholarships — all of those things are different.

“Ontario is different from Canada West. Having someone who has been here as long as Chad, with that experience and his relationship with the guys and the people in the community, will just make the transition easier for me.

The last female basketball coach to come to U of S from Ontario was Lisa Thomaidis, who has since won two U Sport women’s basketball national championship titles.

“Pretty good company,” agreed Campbell. “You look at all the success they’ve had over the last few years, Saskatchewan has become one of the best, if not the premier women’s basketball program in the country. You’re talking about someone who coached our national team, coached at the Olympics.

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“I talked about working with Dave and Taffe and now I’m coming here and working with Lisa. You can’t be luckier than that considering the people you’ve been lucky enough to work with and around you. Having such an opportunity, being able to talk to him and work together, will be something that ultimately will only help me improve and I can’t wait to start that way.


Campbell is a jovial and carefree guy away from the pitch.

“I’m smiling right now because everything is new and exciting,” he said.

“I loved my job at the OBA (Ontario Basketball Association), and I was very grateful that they hired me and it was a great opportunity that helped me grow in different areas, but I missed the competition. I’m super competitive. I’m very motivated to succeed and I missed that and I missed that team aspect.

On this special day, Campbell wears the colors of Ontario Basketball. He was still waiting for more equipment from Huskie Athletics.

“I brought four shirts and we’re on Day 6,” exclaimed Campbell, “so I have some laundry to go back to my Saskatchewan. Things. Today I went to Ontario; I had nothing else. I have to do the laundry.

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