Jordan Bell adding more offense to his defensive reputation
Jordan Bell is expanding his game by keeping it simple.
Known for his defense, the junior forward for No. 20 Oregon is becoming more multidimensional. It was on display this past weekend against UNLV when he had a career-high 16 points and a season-high 12 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. The Ducks defeated the Rebels 83-63.
Oregon (10-2) hosts Fresno State on Tuesday night for the team's final nonconference game before the start of the Pac-12 season. The Ducks will be challenged at the start of league play at home by No. 2 UCLA on Dec. 28.
Bell is averaging 9.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, both career highs, along with 2.5 blocks. He's been in double-figures in points five times this season. And he's playing more minutes.
''I think I am getting into a groove now, things are coming easier for me now and I am keeping it simpler,'' Bell said. ''Last year, I figured out what to do when I came in. This year I have a set role of what to do so I can just focus on rebounding, defense and blocking shots.''
Last season, when Oregon went to the Elite Eight as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever, the 6-foot-9 Bell averaged seven points and 5.4 rebounds.
''He is almost a reluctant scorer in there. He doesn't demand the ball and doesn't post up a lot. He has never been a great scorer in high school or AAU, he has always kind of been a defender, rebounder and facilitator,'' coach Dana Altman said. ''Now in his third year, you expect that to be part of the growth, to take a more aggressive position on offense and try to score.''
A native of Los Angeles, Bell worked his way into the starting lineup early in his freshman season and finished with a conference-leading average of 2.69 blocks per game. His 94 total blocks gave him the single-season record for the Ducks.
As a sophomore last season, he topped Oregon's career block list. He drew attention in the Ducks' Sweet 16 win over Duke with 13 points, seven rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
''When I first came here, we had Joe (Young),'' Bell said. ''He took care of the scoring. Every year, I've try to expand my role and see what I need to do exactly. This year, we don't really have an inside post player, so I'm really focused on that.''
Bell emerged this weekend against the Rebels in the absence of senior forward Chris Boucher, who was on crutches and wearing a boot on his right foot on the Ducks' bench. Altman said Boucher sprained his ankle in practice and X-rays were negative. Boucher won't play against Fresno State and instead will heal up for Pac-12 season.
The 6-foot-10 Boucher is averaging 14.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game for Oregon this season. He ranks 10th nationally in blocks.
Boucher played in Oregon's 81-67 victory at home over Montana last Tuesday night, scoring 23 points with 19 rebounds. He was a rebound short of becoming the Ducks' first player since 1977 with 20 or more points and rebounds.
Bell says he's willing to step up whenever - and however - he's needed. Against UNLV, he was 7 of 8 from the field, including four left-handed layups.
''I'm actually left-handed,'' he shrugged. ''For some reason, I don't go to it. I don't know why.''