Lady Camels begin preseason practice

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BUIES CREEK, N.C. – The Campbell women's basketball team officially started team practice on Monday afternoon inside Gore Arena. This was the first of 30 practices for the squad in preparation for the 2013-14 campaign that starts on Nov. 9 against Erskine.

"This team is hardworking, and they get after each other in practice," said head coach Wanda Watkins. "I have been amazed with the competitive spirit and the competitive nature that these young women possess. We have worked so hard to instill that in our players. There is a lot of promise and I am really excited about the year ahead."

The Lady Camels went through a practice that lasted just over two hours on their home court at Gore Arena. The squad went through a series of team and individual drills.

Of the 11 returning players on the squad, Campbell returns three starters in seniors Ashley James (Round Rock, Texas) and Roslyn Presley (Petersburg, Va.) and junior Kiera Gaines (Mechanicsville, Va.). The Lady Camels will be looking to replace the contributions from Tonisha Baker, who is currently playing in Germany for the Marburg Blue Dolphins, and Monique Spry.

"There is a lot of potential on this team," said junior Juli Osborne (Kingsport, Tenn.), who was recently named chair of the Big South Conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. "Our freshmen are catching on very quickly. The veterans are coming out with a lot of fire. Our team is really passionate about this year."

Gaines, the team's top returner, averaged 11.1 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. The Mechanicsville, Va., native was selected to the 2012-13 All-Big South Second Team.

James contributed 7.3 points and 5.2 boards per contest for the Camels last year. Recording 6.6 points and 3.2 rebounds per game was Presley.

Among the players battling for starting positions are seniors Jessica Moore (Jacksboro, Tenn.) and Heather Beadle (Austin, Texas), juniors Summer Leverette (Turkey, N.C.), Casey Elliott (Wilson, N.C.) and Osborne and sophomores Jessica Pone (High Point, N.C.) and Jewell Yarborough (Creedmoor, N.C.).

Campbell welcomes four newcomers to the program in freshmen Courtney Best (Raleigh, N.C.), Qua Brown (Hampton, Va.) and Amanda Coffer (Summerfield, N.C.) and junior D Janelle Brown (Oklahoma City, Okla.) this fall.

Coach Watkins is in her 33nd season guiding the Campbell program and has amassed 498 victories. She is one of 10 women's basketball coaches to serve 30 or more years at the same institution.

The Lady Camels finished the 2012-13 campaign at 20-11 overall and 11-7 Big South record. Campbell advanced to the semifinals of the Big South Championship by overcoming a 24-point halftime deficit to top High Point in overtime, 74-73.

Campbell begins the season on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m., hosting Erskine at the John W. Pope, Jr. Convocation Center.