ORU's Bell-Holter getting Alaska wish
BY JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer
Thursday, November 22, 2012
11/22/12 at 6:56 AM
Damen Bell-Holter had the same request for every college basketball recruiter who pursued him: If I go to your school, I want to play in the Great Alaska Shootout.
This shouldn't be shocking news, but recruiters will tell a prospect virtually anything to get a signature on a letter of intent.
Of course, Oral Roberts coach Scott Sutton agreed to take Bell-Holter to Alaska.
And, since the Golden Eagles are spending Thanksgiving in Anchorage, it's safe to assume Sutton kept his word.
"Even if I hated going to Alaska, I probably would have (told Damen) the same thing," Sutton said.
"But I love going out there. I have been out there three times with my dad's teams as a kid and then I took our guys there five or six years ago. I think it's a neat place."
ORU will play Loyola Marymount - a 21-win team last season - in an 8 p.m. Thursday first-round game at the Great Alaska Shootout.
There are regular season college hoops tournaments all over the globe. Hawaii. Florida. California. Puerto Rico. Why was it so important for Bell-Holter to play in the Great Alaska Shootout?
"It's something personal for me to go back to my home state to be able to play in front of my friends and family," the senior forward said.
Bell-Holter is from a tiny Alaskan village (Hydaburg) located on the southernmost tip of Prince of Wales Island. He said you had to take a ferry ride or plane trip just to get to a Walmart.
Basketball was Bell-Holter's ticket to see the world. He migrated to Ketchikan, Alaska's fifth-most populous city, for his final two years of high school and played well enough to get noticed.
Bell-Holter said the family of ORU assistant Kyan Brown is from Alaska. Brown got an early tip about Bell-Holter and they struck up a relationship when Brown was at Missouri State. An academic snag sent Bell-Holter to a prep school and he followed Brown to ORU.
Among colleges that once pursued Bell-Holter is the opponent ORU will face in Alaska. Loyola Marymount could get Bell-Holter's best shot.
"I expect Damen to play well up there," Sutton said. "He has always played well when he has played in front of family members."
Bell-Holter (who indicated he needs at least 40 tickets) got an opportunity to play in front of family members and his high school coach as a freshman, when ORU won at Stanford. There were times in that game when Bell-Holter looked like the best player on the floor, according to Sutton.
In a pit stop game on the way to Alaska, Bell-Holter produced 11 points and 11 rebounds in a Monday night victory at Pacific. It was his first double-double in a span of 20 games.
A back issue bothered Bell-Holter before the west coast journey, according to Sutton.
"But he is going to have a really good year," the coach said. "I think (the Alaska trip) will be a great way to jump-start the rest of his season."
Oral Roberts (2-1)
|Ht. ||Pt.|| Reb.|
|F ||Glover ||6-6 ||8.3 ||5.0|
|F ||Roundtree ||6-8 ||10.3|| 5.0|
|C ||Bell-Holter|| 6-9|| 7.7 ||7.7|
|G ||Billbury ||6-3 ||4.3 ||2.3*|
|G ||Niles ||6-5 ||24.7 ||4.7|
Loyola Marymount (2-1)
|Ht. ||Pt.|| Reb.|
|F ||Hamilton|| 6-7|| 12.3|| 8.0|
|F ||Okonji ||6-8|| 6.3|| 4.3|
|G ||Ireland ||5-10|| 20.7 ||8.0|
|G ||Flint|| 6-1|| 8.7 ||4.7*|
|G ||Egbeyemi ||6-4||14.3|| 5.0|
*assists per game
Oral Roberts vs. Loyola Marymount
8 p.m. Thursday
Sullivan Arena, Anchorage,
Radio: KYAL fm97.1
Original Print Headline: Sutton grants Alaska wish
Jimmie Tramel 918-581-8389