CHICAGO – It was during an interview with an NBA team this week when Jordan Bell said he became emotional, his past at the University of Oregon haunting him again.
Over two days in Chicago, he was interviewed by nine teams: Detroit, Brooklyn, Washington, Miami, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta and the LA Clippers.
One of the teams – Bell wouldn’t reveal which one – showed him video of the deciding plays in the Ducks’ Final Four loss to North Carolina – two offensive rebounds off missed free throws by the Tar Heels in the final seconds, which Bell in a tear-stained postgame interview blamed on himself.
“One of the meetings they had a video of the last two box outs and I got a little emotional just thinking about it again,’’ Bell said. “I don’t think it’s something I will ever get over. It is something that will always be in the back of my mind.’’
If it seems like a cruel exercise to throw at a 22-year-old kid, Bell didn’t take it that way. After the video stopped, Bell said the team asked how he learned from it, how he got over it and what he took from the experience.
Emotional, Bell said he answered like he plays: to the point and with feeling.
“Teams have been trying to get to know me as a person, and see who I am outside of basketball,’’ he said.
What he hopes they discover is a person who has found himself, which he says carries over to the basketball court.
While he says he patterns his game after Golden State’s Draymond Green and Denver’s Kenneth Faried, Bell says he is a defense-first player who will know how to embrace his role at the NBA level.
“I’m not someone who has to go from being a scorer in college to trying to adapt to a new role,’’ Bell said. “The person I’ve been playing in college is exactly the person they will ask me to be in the NBA.’’
That role, Bell figures, should be in demand in this draft.
“I think the need in the NBA right now is definitely defense,’’ Bell said. “Everybody has pretty much been a scoring. I’ve been watching basketball, and getting to 100 was a big thing, now it’s 120, 110. I figure there is definitely a need for defenders.’’
He says he has been studying noted defenders like Green and Oklahoma City’s Andre Roberson, and their skills call to his love of the game.
“I just get a thrill,’’ Bell says of playing and watching defense. “I understand blocking shots is, to me, more important than getting a layup. Getting a layup is two points, but blocking shots is minus two points, and you are putting a fear into their hearts. Like, if you are in there, and they miss a layin, you might not block it, but I know I effected it in some kind of way.’’
After the NBA Combine ends this week, Bell says he has workouts scheduled with Indiana, San Antonio, Houston, the Lakers, Utah, Boston, Brooklyn, Cleveland, Golden State, Detroit and Atlanta.
Most mock drafts have Bell projected to be a late first round, early second round pick.
“With me, my main focus is to make sure I go to the right team,’’ Bell said. “I don’t want to go 15th and go to a team that will probably have me go to the D-League or something like that. I’d rather go mid-second round to a team that has a need for what I do.’’