Pasadena senior led the way
Above: Pasadena High School guard Keion Bell. (Staff Photo Keith Birmingham)
By Scott Galetti, Staff Writer
PASADENA – In a year many consider vital in terms of college recruiting, Pasadena senior guard Keion Bell spent his critical junior year on the sideline.
Then there were the constant comparisons to 2006-07 Star-News Player of the Year Trevon Harmon.
With a year of lost time to make up, and constantly under the microscope, Bell trotted onto the court night in and night out and played the only way he knew how – with 100 percent effort.
The senior transfer from Serra led the Bulldogs in scoring, averaging nearly 22 points, and averaged six rebounds and four assists as his team finished with a 22-6 record and a Pacific League championship.
For his efforts, Bell is the Star-News’ 2007-08 boys basketball Player of the Year.
“It was overall a good year,” said Bell, the Pacific League’s co-MVP and second-team
All-SCIBCA Division II-AA selection. “It could have been a great year without the falloff at the end.”
In Pacific League play, Bell was nearly unstoppable, pouring in 26.3 points per contest.
“He gave us a big scoring threat,” Pasadena coach Tim Tucker said. “He took over where Trevon Harmon exited, and that gave us a chance to make another run and made us a championship-caliber team.”
Bell poured in 30 or more points six times in Pacific League play and eight times overall.
In league, Bell put together a string of three consecutive 30-plus point games.
“That run was pretty much focus and determination and I was just taking everything full stride,” Bell said.
Bell averaged 32 points in his games against the top teams in league – Glendale, Hoover and Crescenta Valley.
Every time Bell took the floor, there was anticipation that he would do something spectacular.
“He’s a crowd pleaser,” Tucker said. “He’s probably one of the most athletic players to play at Pasadena High School, and is as talented as any person that’s come in. We wouldn’t have won 22 games without him.”
Perhaps the biggest roadblock for Bell throughout the season was the pressure of filling Harmon’s shoes.
“That was the killer,” Bell said. “I heard that so much, either (I am) the next Kyle Austin or the next Trevon Harmon.”
The comparisons to Harmon never ended, and it didn’t help matters that they both wore No. 3.
“I got compared to Trevon Harmon so much,” Bell said. “Same number, same position, and after every game people tried to compare the same stats. I’m cool with Trevon and everything, but it was tough hearing that.
“Trevon is a great player, and probably one of the best players to come out of here.”
How Bell put up with the daily comparisons was simple: he considered himself a different player.
“Trevon Harmon was more of a guard, and I don’t really look at myself as a guard. I’m more of just a player and I don’t put a position on myself,” Bell said. “I rebound and I block shots and I don’t just score.”
After winning a CIF title with Serra during his sophomore season, Bell found himself one of the lone returning players.
Then his mother was relocated because of her work, and the talented senior had the choice of commuting to Serra or attending PHS.
“If I was going to stay at Serra, I would have to go through a lot of changes, but since my mom was already moving out here, I decided to live with her and this was the best school in the area.”
While he may have picked the right school, Bell couldn’t play varsity ball as a junior, something that has affected his stock as a collegiate prospect.
“Sitting out last year kind of hurt him because the junior year is a big part of recruiting,” Tucker said.
“When I didn’t play last year, my recruitment took a hit,” Bell said. “I was really recruited high as a sophomore, and not playing my junior year, I stopped hearing from a lot of colleges, but I think it made me a lot better as a senior because I didn’t take anything for granted. I tried to play every possession as if it was my last.”
His urgent approach to the game is something that may help him at the next level.
He is looking at USC, Virginia, Miami, University of San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Diego State and Pepperdine.
His decision will come down to potential playing time as a freshman and a school that has quality big men.
“I’m looking for a college that has big bodies that can play in the post and, as a guard, somebody that I can distribute the ball to,” Bell said.
Tucker is hoping Bell can hook up with the right program to hone his already-strong skills.
“Under a good college coach, you may see him at the next level,” Tucker said.
If Bell’s game has a flaw, it could be that he’s been known to put too much pressure on himself.
“Me being the leader of this team, sometimes I felt I did have to do too much because when we win, they’re talking about Keion Bell as one of the main leaders,” he said. “And when we’re losing, it’s the same thing and they talk about if I could’ve played better.
“Most of the time I’d be thinking about that too much instead of just letting the game play to me, and I think that was a problem in some of our key losses this year.”
Added Tucker: “He’s just very explosive and assertive, and it’s almost to his demise, because he feels he needs to do it all himself. In order for him to be a successful college player, he’s going to have to trust his teammates.”