UST Celt is Living Life Above the Rim
When the University of St. Thomas established a men’s basketball team in 2009, few imagined the team would win the conference championship a mere four years later. Now, after leading the Celts to the conference championship and having graduated with an accounting degree from the Cameron School of Business, Travis Lampley is embarking on another journey playing basketball for the American Basketball Association’s South Florida Gold in Boca Raton, Fla. this fall.
Standing at 5-foot-10 and weighing 165 pounds, Lampley’s stature may be misleading, but on the court, he, along with his teammates, have proven they can stand head and shoulders above the competition.
“I never got recruited,” Lampley said. “No one ever showed any interest in me, I just kept playing.”
Lampley’s is a true underdog story born from the mantra, “I just kept playing.” After trying out for nearly every junior college, Division II and Division III school in Texas, he headed to Stephen F. Austin State University where he would continue training in hopes of being picked up. His lucky break came over Christmas break while at his little brother’s basketball game. A rival coach asked if he was still interested in playing and pointed him to the UST’s head coach, Todd Smith, who was working to put together a team.
"Travis Lampley is the best passer I have ever coached or worked with during my 25 years in the profession," Smith said. "He visualizes and thinks the game at a higher level than ninety nine percent of coaches and players. His work ethic and passion for the game is tremendous and he has earned all of his accolades. I would like to say that I discovered Travis, but the truth is Travis found us and he was the perfect fit for UST and our program."
A self-proclaimed ‘bitty baller,’ Lampley has been playing since the age of five. Like most kids, growing up he played several sports, but basketball always held a certain attraction: he liked the idea of banding together with a group of guys to accomplish a goal. He has carried this sense of camaraderie with him, and at St. Thomas he has compiled, not so much a group of teammates, but rather family members on whom he can rely.
Lampley credits his teammates for continually challenging him to train harder. Teammates Jeremy Lewis and Anthony Medina were particularly hard on him in his early years, but thanks to the time they invested in him, Lampley feels he was prepared to lead the team.
“I feel like I have matured so much as a player from my freshman year,” Lampley said. “I can remember my very first game; we were playing Wiley College. We were halfway through the second half and coach takes me out. I was playing bad; it was probably one of my worst games ever. Coach Smith just comes up to me and says ‘Are you ready to play or what?’ and I kind of just shook it off and looked at him and said ‘Yeah,’ and he put me back in. The rest is history.”
The Celts would go on to win that game, coming back from a 15-point deficit to win by two.
Lampley certainly earned his keep while at St. Thomas; he made third team All American, was the nation’s assist leader and named the most Valuable player in the Red River Athletic Conference Championship, where he led the Celts to victory.
Now, after graduating from the University of St. Thomas, Lampley will embark on his next journey — playing basketball for the South Florida Gold in Boca Raton, Florida. Lampley has found himself in similar circumstances that lead to his success at UST; he has found a coach who is willing to take a chance on him and is stepping on to a brand new team in the ABA.
“I felt like I deserved to be here,” he said. “I felt like I worked hard enough to be here. I just wanted to prove it to everyone else. It is a brand new team. Nobody knows anything about me.”
The Gold have been off to great start winning their first four games of the regular season, which started on Nov. 1. If the past is any indication, Lampley will prove to be an asset as the season continues.
“I would like to be around basketball for as long as I can. What the future holds for me? I really don’t know. I could break my leg tomorrow and be back here. I don’t know. I just keep praying and pushing on.”
The UST Celts men’s basketball team will continue their season playing at home against Talladega College at 4 p.m. on Nov. 16. Their first conference game will be on Dec. 6 against Jarvis Christian College.