KOKOMO, Ind. — Jerome Campbell shoots and scores his way to being the first in his family to earn a college degree, as a member of the Indiana University Kokomo men’s basketball team.
Campbell, along with David Kelly and Nick Teeter, are the team’s three graduating seniors. They finished their final season with an 8-21 record. Teeter was second-team all conference, while Campbell earned a Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC) Champions of Character award.
Basketball gave him a shot at his goal of being the first in his family to earn a college degree.
“My parents are really big on all of us at least trying college,” he said. “It means a lot to me to graduate, and to set that example for the rest of the family.”
A criminal justice major from Indianapolis, Campbell suits up for a new opportunity in March, beginning an internship with the Indianapolis Fire Department. He previously completed two internships with FCA US LLC.
“I hope this can lead to a career as an arson investigator with the fire department,” he said. “I’ve always had a fascination with science, chemistry in particular. I’m interested in how things are created, and how they blow up.”
Campbell plans to earn a master’s degree in criminal justice in the future, and he’s also considering playing in a European basketball league.
“Everyone has dreams of playing professional basketball, at all levels,” Campbell said. “It would give me a chance to travel and see new places.”
Teeter, from Berne, also hopes to continue his basketball career, but as a college coach. He plans to look for assistant coach jobs after completing his degree in general studies.
Teeter added experience to IU Kokomo’s young team when he transferred from Huntington University. He enjoyed being part of a new program, and building traditions.
“It’s exciting, trying to develop a culture and a winning mentality, coming into a new team,” he said. “I had experience the other guys didn’t have, and was able to help out in that sense.”
His favorite moment as a Cougar was defeating Division II Salem International University, during his junior year.
“They weren’t expecting us to play as well as we did that night,” he said. “It always feels good to beat a higher ranked team.”
Teeter said playing for IU Kokomo was a good experience for him. Coach Jace Thompson helped him focus on his defensive game, and he grew as an offensive player too. The best part, though, was the friendships formed with other players.
David Kelly played two seasons for the Cougars, after transferring from Purdue North Central. As the first in his family to graduate from college, he feels a great responsibility to set an example, particularly for his sister, a sophomore in high school.
“I want her to see it is possible,” he said. “If she has questions about college, she can ask me. I didn’t have anyone I could ask.”
He hopes for a career working with children, possibly in coaching, after completing his degree in psychology. He’s also considering the European basketball leagues.
“It’s all God’s time,” he said. “It’s my responsibility to be prepared for where he takes me. I’m not picky about where I might play. Just the opportunity would be awesome.”
He is excited about his team’s future, with a strong group of sophomores leading, and a small senior class graduating.
“The sophomores still have time to grow together. That’s what makes a great team,” Kelly said. “This season was a growing experience more than anything. To only graduate three guys is huge. Hopefully the young guys took the good parts, and learned from our challenges.”
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.