ORU's Damen Bell-Holter provides tale of inspiration
BY JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer
Sunday, November 04, 2012
11/04/12 at 6:26 AM
The YouTube video is titled "Blessed to Bless." It starts with Damen Bell-Holter saying he would have called you crazy if you had told him he would ever have an opportunity to do what he is doing now.
Bell-Holter, a senior basketball player at Oral Roberts University, beat the odds.
He is from a remote village (Hydaburg) of fewer than 400 people in Alaska. He said people with talent in his village tend to get stuck there. He said there are substance abuse problems - and suicide problems - in Hydaburg.
At least from a statistical standpoint, Bell-Holter says he should still be in his village, partying and "throwing everything away."
But he had a dream to play basketball and now he wants to be an example and inspire kids to pursue their dreams.
That's why you'll see Bell-Holter sharing his story via YouTube and his WordPress blog and his Twitter account (@dbh32ORU), which includes a link to the blog.
He believes being a college athlete provides him with a platform he can use to help youths. And, in the meanwhile, he'll help the Golden Eagles win as many games as possible.
"For us to be as good as we can be, he needs to be a dominant force, and at times he has been that," coach Scott Sutton said, indicating that he wants Bell-Holter to be more consistent.
"Last year was a tough year for him because he battled so many injuries and I don't think he was ever completely healthy and he got heavy because he couldn't practice as much and he lost some conditioning.
"But we need him to be a go-to guy down low and a guy that I think can hopefully average close to a double-double."
Bell-Holter, a 6-foot-9 forward and one of two returning starters, averaged 7.9 points and 5.8 rebounds last season. He averaged 13.3 points and 7.8 rebounds the previous season.
"The coaches want me to be a reliable scorer and defender and rebounder, so I have to lead by example for this team with us having so many new guys," Bell-Holter said.
Sutton has noticed that when Bell-Holter enjoys success early in games, it's a signal that he's destined for a good performance. When Bell-Holter gets off to a rough start, he must learn to put it behind him.
Sutton said that's all part of maturity and he said he expects Bell-Holter (the seventh-leading shot-blocker in school history) to have a very good final season. The coach referenced maturity again when talking about the senior's off-the-court growth.
"Damen, he has really matured a lot," Sutton said, adding that Bell-Holter has a great story to share.
"I think he really wants to give hope to a lot of the kids back in Alaska. I know he goes to Canada and communities similar to the type he grew up in (to speak and stage camps for children). I think he has got a positive story and he can be a positive influence on a lot of kids."
Including the "kids" on the ORU basketball team?
"I want to do well," Bell-Holter said. "I want to play well. I'm a senior, so I have big goals for myself and this team. I want to go to the NCAA Tournament."
Southland preseason coaches' poll
First-place votes in parentheses
||Oral Roberts (7)
||Stephen F. Austin (3)
||Sam Houston State
||Texas A&M-C. Christi
Players to watch
Warren Niles: A 6-foot-5 senior guard, Niles is ORU's top returning scorer. He averaged 12.1 points last season and, like Steven Roundtree, was an honorable mention All-Summit League performer. Both are expected to have their best seasons. Niles has played in 100 games with a 13.1 career scoring average.
Junior forward Steven Roundtree is getting a promotion to the starting lineup after a season in which he was named the Summit League's top sixth man. Senior forward Damen Bell-Holter battled back problems last season and enters his final year with career averages of 8.7 points and 5.7 rebounds. Junior guard Mikey Manghum was a backup point guard last season and he will be in the mix at the position again. Sophomore guard Jake Lliteras played in every game last season, averaging nearly 10 minutes of court time off the bench. The Golden Eagles will otherwise depend on newcomers.
Shawn Glover: A 6-foot-7 transfer from Utah, Glover sat out last season and flashed big potential. He exploded for 30 points during a Blue-White scrimmage last year and there were times teammates could not prevent him from scoring in practices, coach Scott Sutton says.
What to expect
ORU lost Dominique Morrison and two other starters from a squad that won a school-record 27 games last season. Enough pieces and newcomers are in place for good times to continue. The Golden Eagles are the preseason favorites in their new league, the Southland Conference. A top-two finish in the league race will result in a bye into the conference tournament semifinals. The mission then becomes simple and achievable: win two games and advance to the NCAA Tournament.
Most likely scenario
Point guard was ORU's biggest question mark entering this season and it didn't help when one of the quarterback candidates, junior college transfer Tramel White, was ruled ineligible. Uncertainty at the position shouldn't sabotage the Golden Eagles' season, but it's best to temper enthusiasm in the meanwhile. Unless injuries strike at other positions, ORU should survive an ambitious non-conference schedule.
THREE GAMES TO WATCH
Oklahoma at ORU, Nov. 28: ORU gets a home game against OU
for the first time since 1995. The Golden Eagles were the Titans
the last time they beat the Sooners (in 1977).
Tulsa at ORU, Dec. 22: The Mayor’s Cup rivalry is back after a
one-year interruption. New TU coach Danny Manning will bring
a team to the Mabee Center for the first time.
Northwestern (La.) State at ORU, Jan. 10: In a three-day span,
the Golden Eagles will play their first two Southland Conference
home games against teams picked to finish third (Northwestern
State) and second (Stephen F. Austin).
Nov 9: at UTEP 8 p.m.
Nov. 14: vs. St. Gregory's 7 p.m.
Nov. 19: at Pacific 9 p.m.
Nov. 22: at Loyola Marymount* 8 p.m.
Nov. 23: vs. TBA* TBA
Nov. 24: vs. TBA* TBA
Nov. 28: vs. Oklahoma 7 p.m.
Dec. 1: at Missouri St. 4:30 p.m.
Dec. 5: at Texas State 7 p.m.
Dec. 18: at Arizona 8 p.m.
Dec. 22: vs. Tulsa 2 p.m.
Dec. 28: at Memphis 7 p.m.
Jan. 3: at SE Louisiana 7:15 p.m.
Jan. 5: at Nicholls State 4 p.m.
Jan. 10: vs. NW State 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 12: vs. S.F. Austin 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 17: at Texas A&M-CC 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 19: at Sam Houston St. 3:45 p.m.
Jan. 24: vs. Lamar 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 26: vs. McNeese St. 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 31: vs. Nicholls St. 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 2: vs. SE Louisiana 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 7: at NW State 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 9: at Stephen F. Austin 6 p.m.
Feb. 14: vs. Sam Houston St. 7:30 p.m.
Feb 16: vs. Texas A&M-CC 7:30 p.m.
Feb 19: vs. C. Arkansas 7:30 p.m.
Feb 22 /23: ESPN Bracketbuster TBA
Feb. 28: at McNeese St. 7:30 p.m.
March 2: at Lamar 6 p.m.
March 9: at C. Arkansas 4 p.m.
March 13-16: Southland Tourn (Katy, Texas)
* Great Alaska Shootout, Anchorage, Alaska
Returnees in bold
G||Caleb Tannehill||5-10||186||Fr.||Nashville, Tenn|
F||Brandon Conley||6-5||205||Fr.||Fort Worth, Texas|
G||D.J. Jackson||5-11||175||Fr.||Kansas City, Mo.|
G||Warren Niles||6-5||195||Sr.||Cincinnati, Ohio|
G||Jake Lliteras||6-5||195||Soph.||Hillsborough, N.C.|
F||Steven Roundtree||6-8||190||Jr.||Jacksonville, Fla.|
G||P.J. Purnell||6-2||175||Soph.||Silver Springs, Md.|
F/C||Jorden Kaufman||7-0||245||Fr.||Andover, Kan.|
F/C||Damen Bell-Holter||6-9||245||Sr.||Hydaburg, Alaska|
G||Mikey Manghum||6-2||185||Sr.||Derby, England|
Original Print Headline: Bell-Holter offers tale of inspiration
Jimmie Tramel 918-581-8389
ORU's Damen Bell-Holter uses his platform to help others. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World