Giuliano Camporin of Massapequa on Feb. 9, 2024.

Giuliano Camporin of Massapequa on Feb. 9, 2024. Credit: Neil Miller

Giuliano Camporini felt a snap in his knee and remained frozen on the ground.

He eventually got up and tried to jog and stretch before checking back into action at a Fairleigh Dickinson basketball camp in August 2022, but the injury was too severe.

Camporini, a rising junior for the Massapequa boys basketball team at the time, suffered a complete tear of his left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). He underwent surgery about three weeks later, starting an at-minimum eight-month recovery for the typical athlete.

Giuliano Camporini,5, Massapequa, plays  against  Roosevelt at Massapequa, Friday,February 9,2024

Giuliano Camporini,5, Massapequa, plays against Roosevelt at Massapequa, Friday,February 9,2024 Credit: Neil Miller

But not for Camporini. He returned after three months to play in Massapequa’s fourth game of the 2022-23 season. Fast forward to this year. The 5-8 senior point guard is averaging 17.6 points and six assists and has hit 70 three-pointers.

Camporini is the captain of fifth-seeded Massapequa (14-6), which begins its Nassau Class AAA playoffs at No. 4 Syosset at 1 p.m. Saturday.

“My mind was set,” Camporini said. “I knew there wasn’t any other option than to come back for the season.”

Camporini had a breakout 2021-22 sophomore season, hitting 37 three-pointers and becoming a legitimate scoring threat for a team that missed the playoffs by one game. He was set for a monster junior season, but the news of his injury crushed the team.

“We were devastated as a staff,” Massapequa coach Chris Cafiero said. “You’re expecting your leader and point guard to come back and just lead your team and take the next step. I mean, he ended his sophomore year as probably our best option.”

Camporini heard the recovery timeline that most people with fully torn ACLs hear: 8-12 months. But his surgeon also told him that everything looked good post-surgery and the shortest recovery he had seen was three months.

It would be a daunting task for Camporini to try and get back into high-level varsity basketball immediately. Camporini attended physical therapy with Bill Schwarz at The Schwarz Institute for Physical Therapy & Sports Performance in Massapequa every other day for about two hours after school.

“I wanted to go there every day, but the doctor said that I needed time to rest my knee,” Camporini said. “So I was there every other day during the week, just trying to get better. The therapist knew what my goal was, so they pushed me a little extra and I couldn’t have done it without them.”

When he was not at physical therapy, Camporini was with the team. Despite not knowing when or if Camporini would return, it was a no-brainer for Cafiero to name him a team captain.

“If it didn’t inspire every single person, I don’t know what will,” Cafiero said. “The guy was defying odds. So if you’re going to complain about something, a little bump and bruise in practice, all you got to do is look to your left and look at a guy with a knee brace on and say, ‘You know what, my stuff isn’t that big of a deal.’ ”

Camporini was aiming to return by mid-December 2022, picking up a basketball every day during his recovery. He was only “about 75%” healthy for the Dec. 13 league opener at Hicksville, but he was ready to play with a knee brace and a minutes restriction, which lasted for about a month.

“He was able to get his range of motion and strength back along with working on proprioception exercises, which his determination and his pain tolerance carried him straight through,” Schwarz said. “It was never a slowdown. He was determined from day one to get back on the court so fast.”

Camporini’s youth also may have helped his recovery, as Schwarz said “there’s less chance of scarring and complications with scar tissue formation in a younger population.”

Camporini passed all his strength and DARI functional motion testing and was officially cleared on Dec. 7, 2022. He continued to check in with Schwarz for maintenance until mid-January.

“He was just one of those kids," Schwarz said. "It was mostly pure determination and he just focused on everything we worked on with strength and conditioning from day one.”

Camporini averaged 13.9 points for a 12-9 playoff team last season. At 100% health this season, he has been sensational. Camporini has eight 20-point games, including 41 at Uniondale on Jan. 5, which Cafiero said was “easily the best performance” he has seen in his four seasons as head coach.

Between his inspiration, leadership and on-court play, Camporini’s impact on Massapequa hoops is immeasurable.

“My daughters, this is their favorite player,” Cafiero said. “They come to the game and they watch him play. At home they’re, ‘I'm No. 5, I’m Giuliano,’ in the driveway.

“That’s the legacy he’s leaving. He’s just a special guy.”

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