One might believe that dark days lie ahead for the Oregon Men’s basketball team. This off-season has been unlike any other for Coach Dana Altman as several key players have been removed from the team, others are transferring and a few graduate in June. So instead of adding new pieces to the puzzle during this spring, the Ducks keep losing¬†them. However, all is not lost. In addition to the other studs that Coach Altman recruited for the upcoming season, there is one standout from the 2013 recruiting class that retains freshman standing – Jordan Bell.
Haven’t heard of him? Well if you lived in California¬†and followed high school basketball a year ago then you would have. Young Jordan Bell was blocking your brother’s shots, your son’s shots and whoever else’s shot dared approach his rim. Jordan Bell was renowned in his home state and nationally for being one the most prolific shot blockers in the country and now luckily for Duck fans, he’s on our side.
The 6’7″ 190lb freshman played his high school ball at Long Beach Poly in Long Beach, California. At an institution such as Long Beach Poly, Jordan Bell’s ability was sure to be discovered as they are a storied athletic powerhouse. Not only have they sent more athletes to the NFL than any other high school in the nation, but in 2005¬ Sports Illustrated ¬ named Long Beach Poly as the Sports School of the Century! So Jordan Bell stepped into the spotlight as soon as he enrolled in high school.
Although celebrities like Cameron Diaz and Snoop Doggy Dogg carried their backpacks down the same hallways, Bell was not to be outdone. ¬†As a junior Bell only averaged eight points and nine rebounds-per-game but recruiters still ¬†began to take notice of¬†his whopping, menacing five block average. Bell’s freakish athleticism, combined with his long frame and impeccable timing allowed him to send shots away from the rim as if he were a 6’7″ bug zapper.
The following year, Bell’s blocking average improved only slightly but his pedestrian scoring¬†increased to 14. Although Bell’s offensive game was (and still is) seen as raw, recruiters were more enamored by his terrifying defense. Bell showcased the ability to guard all five positions at the high school level and Duck fans are drooling over the possibility of that ‘uncoachable’ skill transitioning into college.
During this same year, the four-star Bell was rated a top 100 player nationally. In addition he was named to the Basketball Recruiting Class of 2013 Honor Rol ¬†along with future NBA draftees Tyler Ennis and Joel Embiid. By the end of his senior year Jordan Bell, with the help of fellow standout Kameron Chatman, led the Jackrabbits to a 28-4 record.
Of course Bell was receiving letters from around¬†the country. Kansas State and Connecticut were particularly interested in him, but actually ended up over-recruiting for the four position. Bell then narrowed his choices to just Auburn and Oregon. Having already lost PLENTY to Auburn in recent years, the Ducks could not afford to give the Aubie anyone else. Ergo Coach Altman intensified his efforts, made the trip south and landed the human bug zapper.
Another reason Altman pursued Bell so intensely was because his signing increased the chances of landing¬†Chatman the following year.¬†Chatman saw Bell as a “big brother” figure, so Bell could be used as¬†leverage against other schools seeking the talents of his¬†fellow baller. (Unfortunately, after narrowing it down to just two schools, Chatman chose Michigan over Oregon.) Unlike his friend, Bell ultimately decided on Oregon because he liked how “Altman turned the whole program around and… the way they run their offense.”
Like other national hoop standouts, Jordan Bell’s illustrious high school career continued past the regular season. He went on to compete in the infamous High School Slam Dunk Contest where previous contestants included Kobe Bryant and Lebron James. Although he didn’t win, Bell still managed to dunk over four fans at once ¬†This feat actually pales in comparison to the time he literally broke a rim on an in-game windmill throw down.
Bell also ran the AAU circuit under coach Imhotep, who touted him as “an absolute stud of an athlete with a big time motor.” Well Oregon loves athletes and hard workers, so if Bell is the same as he was in 2013 then Eugene’s in for a treat.
Now here’s where it gets tricky. The bug zapper could block shots all day, but he couldn’t seem to get his SAT score up. Until Bell’s SAT scores were sufficient he would be labeled academically ineligible and thus unable to compete for the Ducks. Of course Bell is responsible for his own low test scores, but some could point the finger at Long Beach Poly. Their institution is known for its athletic prowess, but not so much for ethical behavior or academic achievement. In fact, Bell’s high school coach Sharrief Metoyer was suspended the following year for the entire season due to his playing of ineligible players. So although it was Bell’s duty to get his academics straightened up, there was little help along the way.
At the start of the season doubts about Bell’s eligibility were beginning to appear. Few fans knew the situation and what was being done about it. Not even long time Duck journalist Rob Moseley was reporting on the issue. There were rumors that Bell, instead of attending the University of Oregon at some point, would be transferring to a junior college or even continuing his high school career at a prep school. Then, in early December, after rigorous study Bell earned his satisfactory SAT mark. Finally after a long and confusing amount of time, Bell was cleared to play.
Though¬†Bell could have begun his college career about half-way through this season, with the Ducks undefeated at that point and the offense being so intricate, he and Coach Altman decided that redshirting would be best. This leaves the bug zapper with four more years under Altman’s tutelage. Look for Jordan Bell to surprise some fans this next season with a defensive force not seen in Eugene in a decade. Bell will block your shot, grab the board, dribble the floor and finish high above the rim. His offensive skills are still developing so once it all comes together Bell may be the missing piece to the championship puzzle.
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