Feb

16

Is Camille Zimmerman Columbia’s GOAT?

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Camille Zimmerman, holding the ball above her head ready to pass in a game of basketball
Camille Zimmerman, holding the ball above her head ready to pass in a game of basketball

Move out, Maodo

Columbia Women’s Basketball has a high rising star with Camille Zimmerman, a junior from Arizona who’s looking to break team records in her last two seasons here. Sports Editor Ross Chapman writes about Zimmerman’s power on the court and her potential to become the team’s greatest player of all time. 

Camille Zimmerman (CC ’18) plays 40.4 minutes per game. A women’s basketball game only lasts 40 minutes.

Zimmerman electrified the Lions when she arrived on campus from Tempe, Arizona in 2014. She immediately asserted herself as an equal to the team’s active leader in career points, Tori Oliver (CC ’17), and has since overtaken her in nearly every statistic in the book. Today, she leads the Ivy League in rebounding and blows the rest of the Ancient Eight away with 25 points per game in Ivy play. Nationally, she ranks 7th in points scored. But while her success on the court is obvious to anyone in the stands, one important question takes a bit more analysis and history – is Camille Zimmerman, not yet done with her third year at Columbia, the greatest women’s basketball player it has ever seen?

The first thing you notice in the Levien stands is that, from the moment Zimmerman touches the ball to start the opening tip-off, she barely ever abandons her post on the hardwood. In the eight games so far played in the Ivy season, Zimmerman has only missed 17 minutes of play. This was most heavily on display during the team’s quadruple-overtime victory against Dartmouth, during which Zimmerman played a crazy 58 minutes (which accounts for her 40.4 mpg in Ivy play). Her presence on the court defines games. She blocks, she steals, and she rebounds, and she barely ever gives the opposing team a moment to take a breather from her dominant play. Zimmerman’s 37.3 minutes per game (including non-conference play) eclipses anyone’s mark at Columbia over the last four years. Zimmerman, Oliver, and Paulina Koerner (CC ’19) are the only players on the team averaging over 20 mpg, but Zimmerman is on her own shelf. Her overwhelming contribution to the team in time on the court is enough to make her one of the most important players in Columbia history.

But Camille’s not just on the court all the time – she’s shooting. Zimmerman accounts for 406 of Columbia’s 1248 field goal attempts. This 32.5% shooting share is unprecedented. To give some scale: last year, Zimmerman led the team with a 19.2% shooting share. Zimmerman’s 406 FGA’s put her at 17th in the nation, even though she’s played three games fewer than anyone else in the top 25. Even though Coach Griffith asserted in a January interview with Spectator that the Lions are not “a one-player show on offense,” it’s hard to ignore just how much Columbia has leaned on her. Zimmerman is only 147 field goal attempts from Columbia’s all time record – one that was set over the course of four years, not three. And with 6 games remaining at a 19 FGA-per-game clip, she is only 40 behind Shawnee Pickney’s 2001 single season record of 446. Her domination of Columbia’s shooting offense far exceeds any other player in Columbia’s record book, which is reason enough for me to believe that no Lions offense has relied on one player as much as the current squad depends on Zimmerman.

If you don’t believe me, consider that she’s not only taking shots, but converting on them. She leads the team with a 36.8% clip from beyond the arc, which she uses to keep the defense honest when she goes to the basket, which helps her maintain her 44.6% total field goal percentage. Because of the combination of her immense shooting share, her dominant minute share, and her sterling shooting percentage, Zimmerman scores. A lot. Nobody on the team has outscored Zimmerman since Tori Oliver put up 18 points against Long Beach State on December 31st. Since then, Zimmerman has never put up fewer than 18 points.

Zimmerman has done in three years what Columbia’s best rarely do in four. She already ranks in the top 5 in points, field goal attempts, field goals made, and free throw percentage. And with Oliver graduating and fellow junior Alexa Giulliano failing to step up, Zimmerman shows no signs of stopping.

Tori Oliver has set records on her own right, and is an example of a great player, a franchise player, who pales in comparison to Zimmerman. She has carried the Lions through four lackluster seasons, and like Zimmerman, she has impacted the team since her very first game in Light Blue. At the end of the season, Oliver will pass the torch to Zimmerman, but not before something very special happens.

Oliver and Zimmerman currently rank 3rd and 4th on the team’s all-time points leaderboard – Oliver has 1,281, and Zimmerman as 1,266. Some time in the tail end of this season, perhaps during this weekend’s home games against Dartmouth and Harvard, Zimmerman will overtake Oliver for the 3rd place spot, and at the end of that game, Zimmerman will have, in my eyes, statistically and symbolically truly taken the torch from Oliver. Tori and Camille have been the Lions’ strongest 1-2 punch in a long time. Oliver will finish her career with the 4th-most points in team history, leaving behind an amazing player whom she has mentored for three seasons. Zimmerman, barring an injury, will continue her pace and go on to set the career scoring record in her senior year, securing her place as the greatest of all time.

Edit, 3:13 pm: A previous version of this article identified Alexa Giulliano as a sophomore. She is a junior. Bwog apologizes for the error.

The Greatest of Some Time via Columbia University Athletics/Mike McLaughlin

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1 Comment

  1. alum

    Great article and analysis. She's seems like an amazing player.

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