Ohio State basketball coach Thad Matta has been looking for a big man. Well, he locked one up tonight.
OSU 2014 Verbal Dave Bell in action at Flyin' To The Hoop
Garfield Heights’ 6-10, 215-pound Dave Bell committed to the Buckeyes today after Matta and assistant coach Dave Dickerson attended his team’s practice session. Bell was in Columbus for Sunday’s OSU game against Indiana. He was offered after the coaches saw him practice today and wasted no time in accepting.
“I went down and visited there when they played Indiana yesterday,” Bell said. “We have been talking for a few weeks. They have been recruiting me for a while now. I decided that would be the right place for me in college.
“It meant a lot to see Thad Matta, the head coach, there at my practice today. That was pretty big-time.”
Bell has been an under-the-radar prospect. He averaged nine points and seven rebounds as a sophomore at Garfield Heights before suffering a late-season foot injury. That put a crimp on his opportunities to play AAU ball as well last spring and summer.
He came back for his junior season at Garfield Heights and has not disappointed one bit. He is averaging 17.3 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.8 blocked shots for Garfield Heights, which is 14-4 on the season.
The OSU coaches took increased notice of Bell when he shined during the Flyin’ To The Hoop event outside Dayton in mid-January. Playing against Dayton Dunbar (the state’s No. 2-ranked team in Division II), Bell had 18 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots as Garfield Heights knocked off Dunbar 64-55. He was 6 of 13 from the floor and 6 of 11 at the foul line in that game.
“I just play hard,” Bell said. “I have fun doing it. I block shots, I run the floor and I score. There is a lot I can do.”
His coach, Sonny Johnson (who played at Ohio U.), talked about what makes Bell special.
“He’s just long and lanky,” Johnson said. “He can just block shots and make plays at both ends of the floor. He runs the floor like a deer.”
Bell did have some offers from MAC schools as well as DePaul, St. Joseph’s and others. Johnson talked about how few knew about Bell’s ability.
“He broke his foot last year and nobody really knew about him,” Johnson said. “I sent Ohio State a highlight film from his first 10 games this year. They looked at the tape. They came up and watched him practice. Then they watched him at Flyin’ To The Hoop.
“Finally, Coach Matta and Coach Dickerson came up today to watch him practice. I think he is a unique player to them. There just aren’t a lot of big men around like him. I think they just saw his upside and his skill set and what he can be.”
Bell becomes OSU’s third verbal for 2014 along with Pickerington Central wing Jae’Sean Tate and Illinois forward Keita Bates-Diop.
“I have always followed Ohio State,” he said. “As far as my position, we haven’t really talked about it. But I think I could play the four or the five for them.”
Bell said the OSU staff said they wanted two bigs in that 2014 class.
“They told me they wanted to sign two bigs – me and (Illinois’ Jahlil) Okafor.”
Bell said he plans to play for the All-Ohio Red AAU team this spring. That would put him on the same team as his future OSU teammate Tate.
Ohio State currently has 10 players on scholarship on this year’s squad. Center Evan Ravenel is the team’s lone senior. OSU has two players verbaled for 2013 in 6-7 wing Marc Loving and 6-2 shooting guard Kameron Williams. The Buckeyes could still take another player or two in the spring for the 2013 class or bank those scholarships for the 2014 class.
In terms of big men, OSU has current sophomores Amir Williams (6-11) and Trey McDonald (6-8) in the fold.