Interview: Vandy's Keegan Bell (part I)

Keegan Bell has hit the ground running for Vanderbilt and is making a solid contribution to the Commodore squad in his first season. VandyMania's Mike Kranzler talked with the promising guard from Alabama recently. NOTE: VandyMania welcomes Mike Kranzler to our staff of contributing writers.

Mike Kranzler: How did your first semester at Vandy go?
Keegan Bell: Oh it went well, school-wise was good, but basketball-wise, it was great. Its fun, you know, finally being here. Academics have been fine. The teachers are a great help. I think the smaller class sizes have helped me a lot, I get to know the teacher better and have better success.

MK: How were you helped by being coached by your father all through high school?
KB: I was helped a lot; I think I was pushed in many ways because basketball just didn't leave the practice, it went home, and he was a guy that's been in the college level, he's played professionally overseas, so he kinda knows what he's talking about, and just learning from him has been a unique experience.

MK: Was it ever rough being seen as the Coach's son?
KB: It can be tough, with people saying things like "Oh, it's only because it's his dad," and all that kind of stuff. It's tough in those aspects, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. My dad and I have a great relationship, we're best of friends, and I think a lot of that is because we're so close.

MK: After your father got fired after your junior season, you transferred schools to continue playing with him. Could you talk about that experience a little bit?
KB: I transferred to Hazel Green High School, and that's where I ended my Senior year. I got to play with him, and it was great.

MK: How hard was it to transfer schools for your senior year to continue playing for your father?
KB: It was tough, because you grow up with the kids, but I mean, Hazel Green, I love it, I call it my hometown, and those teammates, I still talk to them about every week, and we were just a really close-knit team.

MK: How did playing against big names such as Greg Oden, O.J. Mayo, and Kevin Durant at the ABCD and NBA Top 100 camps help you develop as a player?
KB: Well its fun, I think it builds your confidence up when you see Greg Oden, and you've played against him and he's going in the NBA, and Mike Conley, I've played against him a bunch and its fun. It's a great experience, and it helped me become, you know, a better player. I think it helped me kinda advance and get ready for the college game because I was playing against so many good players there.

MK: What was your reasoning behind reopening your recruitment after originally committing to Georgia?
KB: It's just one of those things that I kept changing my mind and I wasn't sure if it was right and if there was something there. You know, I loved Georgia, I loved their university, I loved their coaches, they were great, and I guess it was just a step before marriage, make sure everything was right. When I opened it up and Vanderbilt came, I just thought it was better for me.

MK: What led you to come to Vanderbilt?
KB: Well, just the fans, I love the fans, I love the place, this place is awesome. And then the style of play, I really liked how they push it up and then, and I really liked, you know, Coach Stallings and who he was, and really the players. The players were amazing, meeting Dan Cage was awesome, and Derrick [Byars], and having a chance to play with Shan, that definitely helped out a lot.

MK: What is it like getting a chance to play in Memorial Gym, with such a great home court advantage at every game?
KB: Well it's different, it's a unique experience, but it's awesome. It gets you excited every game and its just so much fun. You know, to have a non-conference game and have the place just about sold-out, it's a lot of fun. It's an SEC school, everyone talks about football, but it's great that we have all-around sports here.

Coming on Thursday, part II. Bell talks about the mentoring he's received from Alex Gordon, the life of a 3-point shooter, how the team will rebound from Kentucky and comments on Vanderbilt's upcoming opponent Tennessee.

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