Last winter the freshmen’s basketball team at Brooklyn’s Bishop Ford advanced to the semi-finals of the Catholic High Schools Athletic Association Intersectional playoffs during a successful 11-5 season.
Two prominent players on that team stood out – Damani Campbell and Mark Jones.
In his first year at Bishop Ford, Jones impressed the freshmen coaching staff at the outset and started at the point guard position. Now he is making the jump to a possible starting position on the varsity team, in this his sophomore year.
“He is a tough guard and quick,” said Frosh Head Coach Jermaine Campbell. “He goes after the ball and is very aggressive. I think he has a good, strong possibility of him gong into the starting line-up on the varsity. He’ll go through the ‘bumps in the road this year’ but end up being a real tough guard for Bishop Ford down the line.
“Being so aggressive, he got through the freshman year to put numbers on the board. Toward the end of the season he put the team on his back and carried the team from the middle of the season to the end.”
Jones averaged about 25 points a game and played more of a ‘combo’ guard. This year he will have to grow into being more of a pass first point guard.
During the summer, Campbell coached Jones, who played AAU ball and in different leagues.
“He’s definitely a reliable guard,” Campbell continued.
Teammate Damani Campbell, no relation to coach Jermaine Campbell, seems to be very athletic.
“When he came into Bishop Ford he (entered) playing center on every team he played for,” the head coach said. “I explained to him (at that time) you’re a ‘two’ guard at best.”
Damani’s whole freshman year was spent into transitioning into a perimeter player from a center. It went pretty well.
Since Mark played that position in junior high school he felt a little more comfortable while Damani felt more uncomfortable because he played center. He could end up being one of the great players Ford ever had by time he graduates.
Damani averaged about 12 points a game last year and also started. He, too, was more of a scorer and rebounder.
“He looks like he’ll struggle a little more than Mark (this year),” added Coach Campbell. “He is (going from a center to a guard). It’s a little difficult but I think he’ll get used to it.”
Coach Campbell comes from an ‘athletic’ family, for his father Leroy Campbell was a soccer player in Jamaica, West Indies while Jermaine’s assistant coach Kharl Francois’ father Lionel Francis donned a soccer uniform in his native land of Haiti. Both are in their second years of coaching the frosh team at Bishop Ford.
Ford’s frosh team opens its schedule against Christ The King by competing in an IAABO tournament at St. Francis Prep High School in Queens while the varsity starts its season with a non-league game against Riverdale. Both are on Dec. 3.
The freshmen’s team seems to be stronger than the one they fielded last year as there is more depth on this year’s squad.
Now the coaches want ensure Bishop Ford receives the recognition that it deserves as its strong basketball program is pushing through the athletes to the next level.
The most benefit of coaching the group is maturing the freshmen and trying to instill teamwork and fundamentals of the sport into the players. Besides basketball, the coaches also try to teach the boys life experiences and different life issues. Basketball is a plus as they are in their first year of high school ball.