A five-star player at Torrey Pines High, Sierra Campisano wanted to play college basketball at the highest level.
She chose Oregon and in her two years in Eugene, the Ducks twice went to the Elite Eight.
“Oregon is a fantastic place with great people, but it just wasn’t for me,” said Campisano, who played in 58 games for the Ducks over two seasons, averaging 3.1 points and 1.7 rebounds.
“I committed there during my junior year in high school. I was excited to go there. Looking back, I made the decision a little too early. I was fortunate to be on two great teams. And I have fond memories and great friends there.
“But I had to make a move.”
The move brought her to San Luis Obispo, where she is starring for the Cal Poly Mustangs, who are 9-7 overall, 5-5 in the Big West.
After a redshirt season in 2018-19, the 6-foot-3 Campisano earned all-conference honors last season, averaging 17.3 points and 8.1 rebounds a game.
Through 16 games this season, she’s averaging 16.9 points and a team-leading 8.9 rebounds while playing a team-high 35.6 minutes a game. She has 21 of the team’s 36 blocked shots and scored a career-high 31 points earlier in the season against New Mexico State.
“Coming to Cal Poly was a smooth move,” said Campisano, an English major. “The basketball is good, the academics are great, I love it here, and it’s closer to home.”
How long she stays is still to be decided.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, every college player gets another year of eligibility.
“Next year is still to be decided,” Campisano said. “I love basketball, so I’ll play somewhere. I’m just not sure if that will be at Cal Poly or professionally overseas.”
Campisano will graduate in the spring with an eye on securing a master’s degree and a teaching credential.
“My parents are teachers,” she said. “Looking back at how much they enjoyed their experiences has inspired me. I even had my father (Gino) in a math class.
“The academics were so good at Torrey Pines, I had such a good foundation, that I never felt challenged at Oregon.
“At Cal Poly, you learn by doing. You really have to have your feet under you or you’ll struggle.”
Shooting was one of Campisano’s few struggles on the court.
As a post player, her philosophy is if she can make 3-point shots, draw defenders away from the basket, the inside game will open.
“My main improvement from high school to now is my 3-point shot,” said Campisano, who has made 15 of 42 3-point shots — 35.7 percent — this season. “I’ve always considered defense as my strength, but I needed to get quicker and more consistent as a shooter.
“I love making 3-pointers, feeling like I’m a guard.”
Campisano averaged 30.1 points, 15.9 rebounds and 5.7 blocked shots a game as a senior at Torrey Pines, where she graduated as the school’s career scoring leader with 2,649 points.
She was a two-time Palomar League Player of the Year and a three-time All-CIF player.
“I’m a big fan of the game,” Campisano said. “My family watches Duke games, and I still follow the Oregon women. I want to play as long as I can, wherever that might be.
“I can see myself coaching and maybe teaching English or getting into special education or ethnic studies.”
Some decisions still need to be made.
Kathyrn Neff (Mission Hills) has started the last six games for Cal State Fullerton, averaging 5.6 points and 1.6 rebounds with a career-high eight points vs. Cal Poly over the weekend.
Freshmen Mazatlan Harris (Cathedral Catholic) and Allie Carreon (Christian) are playing at UC Davis. The Aggies, who are 7-1, had 13 games canceled after playing their season opener.
Madi Chang (Bishop’s) is averaging 6.0 points and 3.9 rebounds at Biola.
Freshman Chibuzo Agbo (St. Augustine) has played in 15 games for No. 15 Texas Tech (14-6) and is averaging 1.7 points and 0.9 rebounds.
Freshman Brandon Angel (Torrey Pines) has played in 13 games for 13-8 Stanford and is averaging 1.5 points and 1.1 rebounds.
Freshman Jackson Larsen (Christian) has started seven games for 5-11 Northern Arizona and is averaging 1.5 points and 0.9 rebounds.
Indiana freshman Leyla Blackwell (La Jolla) was named Big Ten defensive player of the week after posting a school-record 13 blocks in a five-set win over Iowa. The Hoosiers are 2-4 on the season, and Blackwell leads the team with 32 blocks and has 27 kills. Sophomore setter Emily Fitzner (Torrey Pines) is second on the team with 93 assists and has 34 digs.
Track & field
Nebraska senior Zach Podraza (Scripps Ranch) won the heptathlon at the Illini B1G Multi-Meet at the UI Armory. His victory by 221 points was the first of his career. The heptathlon is a seven-event competition that includes the 60-meter sprint, 60-meter hurdles, long jump, high jump, shot put, pole vault and 1,000 meters. He had a best of 15 feet, 5 inches in the pole vault in the Illini B1G. Podroza competes in the decathlon in the outdoor season.