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Coming home: Alli Campbell ‘so excited for new opportunity’ with transfer to PSU

Photo from Alli Campbell Twitter

In what can only be considered a tremendous bit of good news for the Penn State women’s basketball program, Bellwood-Antis High School product Alli Campbell announced on Twitter that she’s transferring from Notre Dame to Penn State.

Campbell, who scored a Blair County-record 3,019 points and won two state titles in high school, entered the transfer portal last week at Notre Dame. And Monday night, she announced this:

For those not familiar with central PA, Campbell was born in Altoona and went to high school about 35 miles from Penn State. So this truly will be a homecoming for her.

“I am so excited for this new opportunity, and I can’t wait to come home,” Campbell told NSN in a lengthy message Monday night.

She was the No. 25 recruit in the country coming out of high school. Getting a recruit of that caliber is massive for the Lady Lion program, which went 9-15 overall and 6-13 in the Big Ten this season under second-year coach Carolyn Kieger.

Here’s what Kieger had to say in a university statement about landing Campbell, the 2019 Miss Pennsylvania Basketball and 2018 PA Gatorade Player of the Year.

“I am extremely excited to welcome Alli and her family to our lion pride and we are thrilled to welcome Alli home! She will be a major piece to our puzzle as we continue to build for the future. Alli is a versatile guard that will be a great fit for our system. She can attack off the bounce while stretching the floor from deep. Her basketball IQ and court vision will help make her teammates better. I am confident the Penn State community will love cheering Alli and her teammates on.”

Why did Campbell pick PSU?

“I chose Penn State for so many reasons,” Campbell told NSN. “After speaking with the coaching staff, they blew me away with their vision for the program and where it 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 PA. It has been so good to me, and I can’t wait to see some familiar faces in the stands as we work towards our goal of winning championships.

“Obviously, Penn State was one of my final schools a few years ago. 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. I kind of knew when I entered the portal that Penn State was where I wanted to go, and I hoped that the feeling was mutual. 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.”

As we wrote last week, Campbell played 28 minutes in each of Notre Dame’s first two games as a true freshman, scoring four and eight points in those games. She played just 17 minutes and scored only one point over the final 18 games.

This is what Campbell said about her experience at Notre Dame this season:

“I’m not really sure why things didn’t work out at Notre Dame. 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!

“Yeah, I felt that I earned more playing time in practice as the season went on, but I wasn’t given that opportunity. That was Coach (Niele) 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. I wouldn’t say that it made the decision easier or harder. I’m very thankful that we were granted the extra year of eligibility, though, for sure. To know that I now have a full 4 years to play at Penn State, yeah, I’m really excited to say the least!

“Lastly, I wanted to say that I am truly going to miss my teammates here. I respected and loved each and every one of them so much, and I believe that I earned their respect as well. I wish nothing but the best for them!”

RELATED: Our season wrapup for the PSU women: As season ends, Kieger likes progress but says, “We’re nowhere close to where we want to be”

What kind of person is Campbell? Hopefully the following two tweets provide some insight.

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Following is the background on Campbell’s situation, from our original story:

Alli Campbell’s college career got off to a strong start at Notre Dame, as the freshman from Bellwood-Antis High School scored four points in 28 minutes against Ohio in the opener, then eight points in 28 minutes against Miami, Ohio in game two.

But after logging 56 minutes in those two games, Campbell barely saw the court the rest of the season. She played only 17 more minutes and scored just one more point over the final 18 games of the season, and the Fighting Irish finished just 10-10 in a down year for the program.

It came as no surprise, then, when word trickled out Thursday afternoon that Campbell has entered the transfer portal. She’s looking to leave Notre Dame, will be eligible to play immediately next season and will still have four years of college eligibility remaining, since this season is not counting against players’ eligibility.

It’s hard not to wonder: What happened with Campbell at Notre Dame?

How does a prolific high school scorer — a Blair County-record 3,019 points for two-time state champ Bellwood-Antis — and a star prospect who was ranked the No. 25 recruit in the country, go from playing 28 productive minutes in each of the first two games to getting buried on the bench the rest of the season?

Here are the important particulars:

** Notre Dame had a new coach this season in Niele Ivey, who replaced legendary coach Muffet McGraw, who retired.

** The Fighting Irish were short-handed the first couple of games because of roster issues with some starters, so Campbell was able to play a lot. When the starters returned, Campbell’s playing time vanished.

** It is not believed that Campbell was injured to the point where she could not play much. That issue never seemed to be addressed during the season by any public comments from Ivey. It would appear that Ivey simply must not have felt Campbell was ready to contribute much as a freshman.

** The team was not very good, finishing 10-10. So, one would think that Ivey might have wanted to get more of a look at Campbell to see what she had in the 6-foot guard.

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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