Despite playing in only 13 games over his first three and 1/2 seasons in a Camel uniform, Jacob Talbert plays a vital role on the team. One of only three 4-year members of the Camel squad, Talbert and his fellow "scout team" players help prepare CU for each opponent. The senior from Southern Pines, N.C. is a 2-time Big South Presidential Honor Roll member as a biology major and earned a place on the 2016 Big South All-Academic Team.
You are entering your final semester as a collegiate student-athlete. Can you believe that the time has passed so quickly?
"It's been a great ride since I've been here. I've been surrounded by some great people. It's just amazing that we've come so far, so fast."
You earned all-conference honors four times in high school in both basketball and soccer. Why did you choose to pursue basketball on this level?
"Actually I played soccer from early on. But whenever I got to high school, I realized I was better at basketball than soccer, so it just took off from there."
What were some of the reasons you chose Campbell?
"One, it was close to home, my grandpa (Gene Maness, who played on the baseball team) actually went here. So there's a little family ties here, but mainly to be close to my family. I was coming to Campbell regardless. I did want to try to walk-on to the team. Out of all the schools I applied to (Campbell) had the best basketball program. I just wanted to give it a shot at the best school."
What are some of your responsibilities as a member of the "scout" team?
"We usually have two days to prep; then we have the game. We basically do our best to duplicate how they play. We go over the plays that the coach has scouted and have our guys guard how (our opponent) plays. We give them some pointers on how to get around screens and how to play defense and give us the best opportunity to win."
Since you don't see a lot of action during the season, is practice more like your game time?
"In practice, I just count on just letting loose and playing how I usually play. Since I don't get much floor time, at game time I just cheer my teammates on as hard as I possibly can and let them know that I've got their backs. Practice is where I usually give it my all."
What are some of your responsibilities as a senior on this team?
"Just trying to be a stable voice; trying to be as consistent as possible. It's hard to be consistent on an everyday basis when emotions are flying. Trying to be a good teammate. I'm here for you if you want to talk about something. I'm here for you if you want to get some extra shots up. Just being a good teammate is all I'm trying to do."
What are your plans following graduation in May?
"I get that question a lot these days. I know I want to stay in the medical field. I'm not sure if that means med school or dental school, or going back to my original plan to be a veterinarian. I'm still weighing my options. We'll see how it goes."
What are some of the highlights for you over your career?
"The biggest is just being able to bond and hang out with my teammates. You can't replace these friendships and bonds I've made with these guys. Whenever I do get into a game, it's really fun. That's why I'm here. I'm here to play."
What is your favorite arena you've visited during your career?
"Playing at Cincinnati and NC State my freshman year, those were two nice arenas, and Liberty has a big coliseum, so it's cool to play there as well."
What were some of the best parts of the team's trip to Europe in August 2015?
"Getting to play against some across the sea talent was fun. Getting to see how other people live and getting to taste other cuisines. Seeing how people look at life and how they live in other countries. I loved the history. Dr. (Sal) Mercogliano was able to come with us and he taught us a lot about the historical aspects of where we visited, that just fascinated me. It was such a fun trip; I just can't get over it."
How great is it that your family and friends can easily come out to home games?
"I love the fact that my parents can come to every game, just being 45 minutes to an hour down the road. It's pretty amazing to look over there across the way and see them cheering us on. I've got some of the best friends in the world, making signs for me and cheering me on. I couldn't ask for better friends."
What's different about this year's team from past years?
"There's a little more toughness out here, a little more willingness to work and get after it, and an actual willingness to learn. I've been really pleased to see how the freshmen and sophomores have stepped up and taken on the role they've need to take on. Some guys come off the bench, some start for us. They are willing to learn and get after it."
Do you feel like you're about six inches shy of being a starting power forward somewhere, considering the way you practice and your toughness in the paint?
"I love to mix it up with the big guys down low. Coming from high school (O'Neal School), I was one of the bigger guys we had, so I always had to play down low and bang in the middle. That's never left me. I love competing for the boards and muscling. I just love to get down there and get dirty."
Where does this team stack up against the Big South?
"We've got some pretty good competition against us, but I feel like we'll be in the top five if we play like we're capable of playing. If we step up and accept the challenge of what's coming at us, we can make a pretty good run."