By Brad Spencer
Ka’Darryl Bell had a few colleges to choose from, but the starting guard for the OPRF boys basketball team said he just became smitten by one in particular.
“I fell in love with the campus from the moment I arrived for a visit,” said the senior of Bradley University in Peoria, where he’s made a verbal commitment to attend next year. “The coaching staff, the people, they were just great.”
Bell, who averaged 15 points per game last year for the Huskies and who made heads turn as a member for his club team Full Package Athletics Elite in the offseason, said he didn’t want this opportunity to pass him by.
“I felt that if I waited any longer to decide or for some other school to come along, they would move forward with someone else,” said Bell, who also had offers from such schools as Ohio, Iowa, Drake and Eastern Kentucky. “I wanted this decision off my mind so I could focus on my final high school season.”
Immediate playing time may have also factored into Bell’s decision.
“Bradley is a perfect fit for Ka'Darryl,” said OPRF head coach Matt Maloney. “They have a new coaching staff that is focusing on recruiting in the Chicago area and they will be young at the guard spot next year. He should have an opportunity to play immediately. He should have a great four years.”
Now at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, Bell has been spending his free time honing his hoops skills and bulking up in the weight room. He’ll be counted on this winter to help better his team's 10-13 overall record of last season, one that ended with a six-game losing skid.
After a 22-7 showing during summer play, Maloney said Bell and the rest of his Huskies are ready for the challenges this winter.
“Ka'Darryl has improved his range and accuracy. Furthermore, his decision making has improved immensely,” said Maloney of his star player. “His game is continuing to evolve and he is becoming much more than a scoring guard.
“Ka'Darryl, along with Gabe Levin, Alex Nesnidal and a host of juniors, should make for an exciting and successful season.”
Levin, OPRF’s 6-foot-6 forward, is receiving interest from Loyola, Sacramento State, Colgate, and North Dakota State at the Division I level, and Lewis, Hillsdale and Truman State at the D-II level, according to Maloney. Nesnidal, also a returning senior has garnered the attention of such schools as Truman State, Grinnell, Illinois Wesleyan, Benedictine, Beloit, and St. Ambrose.
The Huskies begin the season Nov. 23 at the St. Patrick Thanksgiving Invitational.