Tigers strike big in transfer market: Campbell announces intentions to join DWU women

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Jada Campbell, right, puts up a shot as Mayville State University's Taylor Shamp defends at the Strode Activity Center. Campbell is transferring to Dakota Wesleyan University. (John Davis / Aberdeen American News)

Jada Campbell wanted to be part of a winning culture.

After going 15-44 during her first two seasons at Presentation College, including a three-win campaign this past year, the former Hanson High School standout will get her chance. The soon-to-be junior is transferring to the Dakota Wesleyan University women’s basketball team, and will be immediately eligible since the Saints aren’t part of the Great Plains Athletic Conference.

“I’ve heard a lot about them and seen their successes,” Campbell said. “And I’ve heard really good things about Jason and the way he runs his program.”

Campbell excelled on the court as a sophomore. She managed to become the North Star Athletic Association defensive player of the year and was voted to the all-conference second team.

Presentation’s coaching change this year, and then eventual losing season, took a toll on her mentally, though. The Saints’ culture started to change under first-year coach Nicole Bullock. It wasn’t the way Campbell envisioned when recruited by Eric Nelson out of Alexandria.


“When Nicole Bullock came in, the whole program kind of changed and the tradition changed. Just not necessarily in a way I wanted to be a part of anymore,” Campbell said. “Having a losing season is one thing, but we only won three games. It’s kind of hard mentally to go through that. I was just looking for a winning culture, something different.”

With a desire to stay in South Dakota, she found her perfect match.

The Tigers are in the midst of their most successful stretch in program history, recording its fifth consecutive 20-win season and a win in the national tournament this year. They also graduated their starting frontcourt in All-American Sarah Carr, Plankinton native Makaela Karst and Jessica Mieras.

It’ll force a change in style, one the 6-foot-4 Campbell will get a chance to lead with her strong ability to run the floor.

“We want to get up and down the floor. We’re going to start pressing teams,” DWU coach Jason Christensen said. “Playing a little bit different style than what we have in the past. I think she’ll really fit that. When we’re pressing teams and people break the press, they’re going to go inside the paint and face her. I think she’ll alter some shots.”
Few players in NAIA Division II were better in the post than Campbell. She ranked third in the nation with 13.9 rebounds per game and 18th with 2.0 blocks per game. Campbell also chipped in 16.4 points per contest on a 49 percent shooting clip.

She gave DWU fits in the post, according to Christensen, flashing her improved toughness down low as she averaged 8.5 points, 12 rebounds and a block in two contests against the Tigers this past season.

“I think there’s things we can do with her to even excel her game more,” Christensen said. “She’s pretty good around the hoop and we’re going to do things to even make her better.”
The defensive stalwart noted she hasn’t played under a defensive-minded coach like Christensen before, but she’s also eager to expand her game as a leader and on offense. This past season, she shot 7-for-20 from 3-point range, and hopes to continue extending her game outside of the paint.

“(Christensen) just said he knows he can get more out of me than rebounding and shot blocking,” Campbell said.


DWU didn’t expect to dip into the transfer market until Campbell called to see if Christensen would be interested. Now, on paper, she fits right into a hole the Tigers needed to address, seemingly adding a second junior to a young starting lineup.

“We’re never going to turn down a kid that’s of Jada’s quality,” Christensen said. “Things like that happen. Sometimes you get lucky.”

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