Hometown: Orlando, Florida
High School: Montverde Academy (FL)
2011-2012 Stat Line
Bell was frustratingly inconsistent in his offensive production over his first two seasons. The athletic swingman came to Villanova with high expectations, but was immediately slowed by a diagnosis of stress fractures in his legs that held him out of practices and games for much of his first season. Last year, he was one of the team's best three-point shooters at 36% (just a hair behind JayVaughn Pinkston), but only reached double-digit scoring in eight games last season.
"We come into every season knowing that last season is over and we can't control what happened last season, so this year we just want to concentrate on our core values of playing hard, rebounding, playing defense and just being smart," Bell said about how he was looking at the new season.
Like Pinkston, Bell also worked hard in the offseason to drop weight and build a body more suited to Big East battles.
"I cut down a few pounds," he explained. "I'm trying to be quicker. Just as strong, but a little lighter, it just helps with my conditioning, it helps with my endurance. I'm just trying to be an overall better player."
Villanova will deploy Bell primarily in the frontcourt this season, where he may be expected to take plenty of minutes at the 4, but could slide over and play the 3 as well. Coach Jay Wright has used Bell in both positions in the past at Villanova, and appears confident in the Junior's ability to provide defense and rebounding in those spots. That ability is also one of the reasons that Bell earned a spot on the USA U19 World Championship squad in 2011.
Against Seton Hall in both his freshman and sophomore campaigns, Bell has made big offensive plays and looked spectacular overall. That production at least demonstrates the capability of the player to be a scorer, but he will need to gain confidence and rely on his teammates to assist him in producing.
Best Case Scenario: Bell continues to be an above-average shooter from beyond the arc, offers a defensive and rebounding presence for the Wildcats, and has the strength and speed to be more of a threat to drive the ball inside, becoming a vital player for the team, taking some pressure off of Yarou and Pinkston.
Worst Case Scenario: Bell offers a good defensive and rebounding effort, but never finds his consistency scoring the ball. He continues to earn minutes as a starter and a role-player and the team will have to look elsewhere for another regular scoring option.
Ed's Wisdom of Crowds experiment is back for the 2012-2013 season. Following each of our previews we will be sampling the VUHoops community on the projected performances of the Villanova roster for the upcoming season.
Bleacher Report predicts that Mr. Bell will score one-half point less in his junior year at 6.5 PPG while playing 15.0 PPG, a predication that seems at odds with their commentary. They write, "Villanova's lone junior looks to build upon a season which he saw major improvement from his freshman year. Bell started 18 games for the Wildcats last year, in which he averaged 7 points per game. The three point shot could really increase Bell's value as it is a skill that the majority of the Villanova team lacks."
Use the voting buttons below to predict the points per game you think James will score this year and the comment section to explain your thinking.