February 17, 2010 8:31:00 AM
Campbell University women''s basketball coach Wanda Watkins is thankful for a telephone conversation she had with Brian Alexander.
That conversation led Watkins to recruit and to sign shooting guard Courtney Cannon of Itawamba Community College in Fulton.
Cannon, a 2007 graduate of Starkville High School, has been a nice addition to Campbell this season, emerging as a starter and the team''s third-leading scorer.
"Brian Alexander, who used to coach here at Campbell, worked as an assistant at Itawamba, and he and I had a lot of conversations about her before she came here," Watkins said. "He felt like she''d be a nice fit for us. I can remember him calling me about her. That was a nice phone call."
Cannon, a 5-foot-8 junior, is averaging 8.2 points and 3.9 rebounds in her first season at Campbell (14-11, 9-7 Atlantic Sun Conference), which is in Buies Creek, N.C.
Cannon, who always has been touted for her scoring ability, has elevated her play in conference action. All 12 of her starts have been in Atlantic Sun Conference games, where she''s averaging 8.9 points and 4.4 rebounds.
"She''s made a tremendous contribution," Watkins said. "I''m sure you can tell that from a statistical standpoint. But as a person, in general, we really enjoy having her here at Campbell. She''s been a really nice fit for us."
Cannon scored a season-high 19 points against Florida Gulf Coast on Jan. 14. She scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds Thursday against Kennesaw State.
Cannon is showing the same scoring ability to flashed in junior college and high school. She averaged 16 points as a senior at Starkville High and 10 points as a freshman and 12 points as a sophomore at ICC.
Cannon is shooting 38 percent (60 of 158) from the field, including 21 of 61 3-pointers (34 percent). She is shooting 85 percent (64 of 75) from the free-throw line.
"She''s a team player," Watkins said. "She wants to do what I want her to do. She knows her forte is scoring. She''s a tremendous scorer and a good 3-point shooter. She''s a tremendous free throw shooter. I think the thing that has been really nice, too, has been her ability to be a strong rebounder."
Cannon wasn''t asked to rebound at Starkville High, so contributing on the boards is new to her.
"It''s different because in high school I really wasn''t a rebounding machine," Cannon said. "But once I got to college it changed. I knew to step my game up I had to rebound."
Cannon credits her teammates for helping her to adjusted to being away from home for the first time in her life.
"It was very easy," Cannon said. "All my teammates are nice girls and we get along well. There is no tension on the team. It''s easier to play on the court if everybody gets along off the court."
Cannon also is getting accustomed to colder weather and seeing snow on the ground. Last week, Buies Creek had two inches of snow.
On the court, Cannon has adjusted to Watkins'' system and has seen her playing time increase. She averages 20.2 minutes a game and 21.7 minutes in conference games.
"It''s an offense that includes everybody," Cannon said. "It''s not one person trying to do all the work. It''s not one person trying to do all of the scoring. It gives everybody a chance to score."
Cannon, an accounting major, had a 3.81 grade-point average last semester. She would like to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) when she graduates from college.
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