The signature game in Jordan Bell’s career came this year against Kansas. He was two blocks away from a triple-double in Oregon’s Final Four-clinching upset of No. 1 seed Kansas.
Remember, Joel Embiid went to Kansas.
“I talked some smack to him,” Bell, who spent some time with Embiid Tuesday night before a pre-draft workout with the Sixers the next morning, said with a smirk on his face.
As far as the Sixers are concerned, Bell has the talent to back up his smack talk. The junior forward could be available when the Sixers make their second-round selections, of which they have four: 36th, 39th, 46th and 50th. Bell made his case at the Sixers’ training complex Wednesday.
“I’m the glue guy on the team, the person who does whatever needs to be done on the floor during that game,” he said. “I can change it up from game to game. I can go out for 20, I can have somebody have their season low, 16 rebounds, 20 rebounds, whatever it is I need to do — eight blocks.”
Although the 6-foot-9, 225-pound Bell averaged a respectable 10.9 points per game in his final season as a Duck, he is not primarily a scorer. Should the Sixers decide to spend one of their picks on him, he said he’s ready to come into Philadelphia and do “the dirty work” — rebound, defend, block shots.
The Sixers see a similar role. VP of basketball administration/Delaware 87ers GM Brandon Williams said they see “a Dennis Rodman-like player that’s got the ability to play across a few positions, mainly defensively.”
Bell showed that range in the few minutes of workouts open to the media. In three-on-three play, he covered Indiana’s Thomas Bryant, who is an inch or two taller and whose wingspan stretches a massive 7-foot-6. In one sequence, Bryant went for a right hook from the block and Bell elevated to swat it away. The refs called goaltending, but that didn’t matter. Just the distance Bell got off the ground was telling.
Those abilities, interestingly, weren’t honed entirely on the basketball court — something the Sixers dug up when they interviewed Bell.
“As we learned more about him, one of the fascinating things is that he’s a volleyball player, and if you pick up some little nuances, he blocks a lot of shots with two hands,” Williams said. “You can almost see the volleyball play, blocking at the net.”
The sport has helped Bell develop his timing when attempting to block shots.
“For a player as, call him, short, given how big you think he is, at 6-8, his spring, his sense of timing,” Williams said. “Coaches always want players who can guard pick-and-roll and guys who can switch and I think he’s going to give somebody a great asset as a versatile defensive player.”
And football, which Bell played for two years at Long Beach Polytechnic High School as a receiver and defensive end, did his development some favors too. The football program there is nationally relevant — DeSean Jackson is a Jackrabbit alumnus. With that crowd of talent, there were no days off.
“So you had to bring that edge every single day in practice,” Bell said. “And then try to just carry that over to the basketball team.”
Bell brought the work ethic from high school to college. Now it’s time to carry it over from college to the pros.