Ka'Darryl Bell plays during the school year with Oak Park-River Forest, and his AAU team is Full Package Elite. The coach of the latter is Sam Story, and he says Illinois is beginning to check out his point guard.
"They're starting to show interest in Ka'Darryl. In one of our games in Las Vegas last summer, I know Bruce (Weber) was there, Jerrance (Howard) was there, and I believe Jay Price was there briefly.
"I think he's starting to get more interest. Last year, his high school team had 6 or 7 seniors. So last year he went from a reserve to getting to play quite a bit. Now this year, he's the guy. I think he's still getting used to himself."
Story thinks highly of Bell.
"Bell is about 5'-10" to 5'-11." If you look at him, you say that kid is really skinny. But he's actually built really well. His upper body and chest are ripped.
"He's a super quick, explosive athlete. He had quite a few dunks this summer. The first time he dunked on another team, the Iowa coaches saw it. The next day they offered him."
It appears Bell is a scoring point guard rather than a two-guard.
"He's got to work on his three point shooting, but he definitely is a point guard and not a combo. He definitely is a point guard who can get to the basket. He's super quick. He still needs to work on his handle, but he's got two really good moves. One, if he gets his hip on a kid, he can cut right to the basket. Even if a kid is in line for a blocked shot, he still doesn't get it.
"He also has a spin move and pull-up jumper that is very effective. That's definitely his best move. He can do it when he dribbles right and then spins back to his left for a pull-up, or he can go to his left and spin back right. He can do it every time, and he's been doing it all summer against really good competition."
A smaller point guard must be a good on-ball defender to attract high major interest. Story says Bell is an excellent defender.
"Ka'Darryl can play defense. He really does a good job on high ball screens. He does a nice job getting through the screen, either getting above it or beneath it. He's a good defender, great upper body strength. Super quick."
Illinois has also checked out Crete-Monee point guard Michael Orris recently. Neither Orris nor Bell have scholarship offers from the Illini yet, but both are under consideration for one. Story has seen both play.
"I know the Illinois coaches are interested. That might be it for right now; I don't know how willing they are to take the next step. I know they're interested in Michael Orris. I'm probably biased, but I think Ka'Darryl is a better player.
"Michael is a bigger kid, bigger arms, bigger legs. Both have good court vision. I wouldn't say either of them is a really good shooter right now from three point land. I think Michael looks better at times because he can throw half-court alley oops to his teammate Jamie Crockett.
"Orris has probably gone against a better schedule. For being quite different, they have a bunch of similarities. They're both capable passers. I think it might be easier for Michael to get his team involved in the offense, while Ka'Darryl might be looking to score first. But his roles vary. Ka'Darryl's high school team needs him to score. Our AAU team needs him to score, but we have other very capable kids too."
Besides Iowa, he has offers from Drake and Ohio, and Butler may be next. More than likely, the next AAU season will determine Bell's ultimate college destination.
"I think this summer will be really big for him. Oak Park-River Forest is not doing that well. They're about .500 as a lot of kids graduated. They're also starting a sophomore in the post. They're getting better, but I think he'll really do well this summer."
Story enjoys coaching Full Package Elite, especially the team featuring Bell, Warren's Darius Paul and Charles Harris from Lake Forest Academy.
"This will be my second year with Full Package. Last summer I had both the 16's and 17's. The 17's had a good summer, but the 16's I really liked. Ka'Darryl and the other guys just seemed to like each other more than the other team.
"Brandon Paul's brother Darius plays on our team. He joined us late. He's starting to get interest from Iowa."