HSH 1-on-1: Gary Bell is a Bulldog on the court
Words. Austin Burton
Gary Bell lives for the big moment, so it’s understandable that he would get impatient waiting three years to shine in his own city.
No matter how many buckets and accolades Bell, a 6-2, 200-pound combo guard, racked up at Kentridge High School (Kent, WA), he was always second on the marquee under All-American Josh Smith at rival Kentwood High, who cast a 6-10, 300-pound shadow over the South Puget Sound League and the state of Washington’s prep scene in general. Smith is now a freshman at UCLA, so while Bell is still considered the second-best player in the state currently behind AAU teammate Tony Wroten Jr. (Garfield H.S., Seattle), he at least has the spotlight of his Seattle-area suburb all to himself. Through five games this season, Bell is averaging 24.0 points per game and, he estimates, six rebounds and four assists a night.
On Tuesday, when Kentridge faced Kentwood, Bell was the hero against the team that knocked his out of the playoffs last season, hitting the game-winning layup with 10 seconds left to cap and 18-point, 8-board performance.
“I didn’t draw anything up,” Kentridge coach Dave Jamison told the Seattle Times. “We had four shooters on the floor and the best guy with the ball in the state, so there’s not a lot of drawing. I told the other four guys to spot up and he was going to go, and that’s what happened.”
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High School Hoop: What was behind your decision to sign with Gonzaga?
Gary Bell: I like the playing style and the coaching staff. Mark Few told me he would put the ball in my hands when I get there, and no other coach recruiting me said that. That’s what kind of put them number one at first. When I went out there for my official visit, for their Midnight Madness, I walked into the gym and all the fans knew who I was. They don’t have a football team, so everybody waits for basketball season.
HSH: Talk about the other guys in your recruiting class — Kyle Dranginis (Nampa, ID), Kevin Pangos (Ontario, Canada) and Ryan Spangler (Tulsa, OK).
GB: I’ve talked to them a few times on Facebook, but I don’t know them that well, honestly. I saw Pangos play when I did the USA Basketball thing this summer. He’s a pretty good point guard, gets everybody involved and he can shoot it.
HSH: When you watch Gonzaga this season, are you already putting yourself on the court and thinking about where you’d fit in?
GB: Yeah, definitely. I see myself being one of the scoring guards. I think they’re kind of lacking that right now. Next year I want to go in there and put my time in the gym and hopefully it pays off with a lot of playing time.
HSH: Where did you play this summer?
GB: I did the Nike EYBL with Seattle Rotary. We also did the Boo Williams (Virginia), and played in L.A. at the HAX. I went to the Deron Williams camp, the LeBron James camp, and the NBA Top 100 camp. It was cool. I got to play against some top talent.
HSH: Who was the best player you played against?
GB: I think the toughest guys were Marquis Teague (Indianapolis, IN) and Austin Rivers (Winter Park, FL). They’re both shifty, quick guys with the ball.
HSH: Who are some guys on Seattle Rotary that aren’t getting enough attention?
GB: Anrio Adams (Franklin H.S.) and Zach Banner (Lakes H.S.), they’re the top guys. L.C. White, he goes to Rainier Beach, he’s a name to look out for.
HSH: Is your game different in AAU than when you’re with Kentridge?
GB: I think so. For Kentridge, I’m more the go-to guy on the team. With Rotary, we have so many other good players that I don’t need to do as much. I mean, I play just as hard, but I don’t always need to be the go-to scorer. I try to hit open shots when I get them and score when I need to, but I can work on other things.
HSH: What did you want to work on this summer?
GB: My passing and my defense. I definitely worked on that this summer and it paid off.
HSH: What goals do you have for your senior year?
GB: I wanna be MVP of the league (South Puget Sound League). My number one goal is to take my team to state and win state. I have big goals, but I think I can fulfill them. We went to districts last year but got put out by Kentwood, so we have a chip on our shoulder.
HSH: How would you describe your style of play?
GB: Well, my coach says I’m very aggressive on defense and on the offensive end. I can shoot it pretty good. My AAU coach used to call me Vinnie Johnson, “The Microwave.”
HSH: Do you have a go-to move?
GB: I’d say my step-back shot. I got that from watching Dwyane Wade.
HSH: You had a game against Auburn Riverside last year where you scored 55 points. What sticks out about that memory?
GB: Oh my gosh, I was hitting everything that night. I can’t really describe what it was like. On one shot I had some sweat in my eyes and I could barely see the hoop and I still made it. That’s when I knew I was hot. I didn’t know I had 55 at the end of the game, though. I thought I had like 40.
HSH: Who are your favorite players in the NBA?
GB: Dwyane Wade, Deron Williams and Kevin Durant. When I went to Deron’s camp he taught me a lot of stuff about changing speeds on the court that’s helped me a lot this year. If you’re only going one speed, the defense can play you better. If you’re changing speeds you can go by ‘em easier. D-Wade, he can pretty much anything — go by you, play defense, scores easily. Durant … man, I don’t even know what to say. He can do everything. He’s 6-9 and plays like a two-guard.
HSH: What are you into off the court?
GB: Video games, NBA 2K11. I’m always trying to get some tournaments in with my friends at school. Other than that, just hanging with my friends.
HSH: Who’s your team on 2K11?
GB: Oklahoma City Thunder.
HSH: What music are you listening to now?
GB: I like J.Cole, Wiz Khalifa, Jay Sean. I listen to Waka Flocka before gaames; he gets you pumped up.
HSH: What shoes do you like to wear on the court and off the court?
GB: On the court, Nike Hyperdunks and Nike Hyperfuses. Off the court, Air Force 1′s and Jordans. I pretty much wear black, red and blue.
HSH: What about fashion?
GB: Mostly Levi’s. I’m a jeans and t-shirt guy.
HSH: Have you met or played with any NBA guys?
GB: I played with Jamal Crawford a few times this summer. He’s a real good guy; he taught me some stuff about shooting. He and I go to the same gym, L.A. Fitness, when he’s in town. Me and Tony Wroten, we meet up with Will Conroy (University of Washington, D-League) and play pickup.
HSH: What do you have to do in order to reach those MVP and state-title goals you’ve set?
GB: Just stay aggressive. My Dad says sometimes I act too cool on the court, so I’ve gotta stay aggressive and do whatever my team needs at that time.