The transition from high school to college can be a tough one for any student to endure, at times, especially if you're a scholarship athlete who is looking to make the jump in his or her particular sport. It's now coming time for Brayden Bell to make that transition.
But don't tell him it's tough, because he has already embraced that challenge.
The 6-9 senior from Salt Lake City Brighton High School averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds this past season for Brighton, who struggled to find any sort of help for Bell on their way to a 12-11 record. As a junior, Bell averaged 18 points and nine rebounds.
With Bell's graduation coming on Wednesday, it's now time for him to focus on his college career. Bell will be leaving Salt Lake City for Columbus on June 18th, where he will begin summer classes at Ohio State on the 19th.
"It's kind of scary leaving all my family and friends behind and whatnot, but I think it will be good for me to concentrate on just school and basketball and not much of the other stuff," Bell said. "I'm looking forward to coming there. I think it's a new challenge for me."
The power forward-center combo says he is coming to Ohio State with hopes of starting at the four this season, although he said the Ohio State coaching staff has left it open he could play some in the post as well. Bell's strengths are shooting from the outside and he said he really improved his ability to blow past defenders off the dribble.
Bell also said he has a little bit of a crafty hook shot that he uses when posting up inside.
"That's one of my go-to moves in the post. I've worked a lot on that," Bell said with a laugh. "It's something I've tried to patent. It's the way my dad taught it to me because it's hard to defend, so I've really kept working on it ever since. I'm still working, but it does go in most of the time."
Ohio State began recruiting Bell in July of 2004 shortly after Thad Matta became the head coach of Ohio State. They were quickly able to get involved with the unsuspecting recruit who previously was considering Louisville, Oregon State, Arizona State, Utah, BYU, UCLA, Gonzaga, and Pepperdine.
By September, Bell, along with JUCO guard Sylvester Mayes, made an official visit to Ohio State, where they both toured the campus and met the players. Then by November, both were signed with Ohio State and watching Buckeye games on television whenever possible this past season.
"I watched them quite a bit," he recalled. "They didn't have a lot of games on, because some of them were on the ESPN package -- which I didn't have. But I saw them quite a bit on some of the national games on ESPN and CBS."
This summer, Bell will work out with the rest of the team, and he will also be playing in the annual McDonald's Summer League in Worthington, although he's not yet sure of which team he will play for or who his teammates will be. Teams are allowed two current players on each roster, so it's expected that Bell might play with Mayes and also two other current members of the Ohio State team.
Most of Bell's focus, however, is to make the NCAA tournament this season.
He not only tracked the progress of this year's team, but he has also been looking at many of the preseason previews and following along where people expect his future team to wind up this season. But, he also doesn't want to settle for simply meeting expectations.
"Yeah, it's great to think about. Some of my friends have been looking at things on the internet about our team for this next year, and ESPN had us as a four-seed for the NCAA tournament for this year, and that's really exciting to think about," Bell said. "It's just kind of weird going from high school to all of the sudden thinking about being a four-seed in the NCAA."
"It's exciting, but I want us to keep getting better and better," he added.
The road from Utah to Ohio is a long one, but Bell is hoping it's also a happy one. The journey is about to begin, and he's hoping that it has future stops in Indianapolis or Atlanta -- the next two hosting sites of the NCAA Final Four.
But for Bell, it's one transition at a time. After all, he still hasn't arrived in Columbus just yet.
*More on Brayden Bell can be read in July's edition of Bucknuts the Magazine. We have much more from Bell himself on what he thinks of the team, Ohio State, how he chose the Buckeyes, and what you can expect from him as a player and a person.