Nova/Marquette Notebook: James Bell could have a "chance" in the NBA

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Bell's chance in the NBA, Hilliard's love for Allen Iverson and more from Nova's game vs. Marquette

Philadelphia, PA -- According to a high ranking scout in a NBA organization, Villanova senior James Bell could have a slight chance at making the NBA after his final game with the Wildcats.

"He has a chance," one NBA scout said prior to taking in Sunday's Villanova vs. Marquette matchup where Bell was held scoreless.

"He has made a case for himself with his shooting... in this league, you only need one team to like you."

The scout also went on to speak about Bell's character and how league team's could automatically assume he was a "good kid" after coming from a respected program like Villanova and being coached by Jay Wright.

The senior guard is currently the No. 6 Wildcats' leading scorer at 15.1 points per game and is second on the team in steals per contest at 1.2 per contest.

When asked about Bell's ability to defend guards at the next level and his comparisons to current NBA players, the scout dismissed the notion that Bell was a comparison or "poor-man's" version of Memphis Grizzlies' off-guard Tony Allen.

"He's no Tony Allen," the scout said. "Allen is a top-five perimeter defender in the NBA and Bell is certainly not that."

There was minimal mention of NBA "chances" for JayVaughn Pinkston, there was talk of upside for Daniel Ochefu as a defender at the next level.

Darrun Hilliard's love for Allen Iverson

On the same floor where the Philadelphia 76ers' star, Allen Iverson - their rock, one of the greatest players pound-for-pound in the NBA - retired his jersey among the shadowed rafters of the Wells Fargo Center Saturday night, it sparked the play of another.

Another guard, six inches taller, yet with the same fire that's ignited another one of Philadelphia's clubs wearing a similar blue sash and winning with a synonymous moxie that led the Sixers to a 2001 Finals appearance.

Sunday afternoon, Darrun Hilliard set his career-high in scoring in his career with a 26 point performance against Marquette in a 73-56 win over the unranked Golden Eagles. Following the win, he was asked about his love for Iverson, a trendsetter in the sport in the early twenty-first century.

Hilliard beamed before answering, reminiscing on how Iverson inspired him to pick up a basketball.

"Last night I saw A.I. get his number retired, so that was pretty cool," Hilliard said. "He was the man, that was my favorite player. Seeing him go out and be the smallest guy on the court and doing what he did, with everything against him, that's something I looked up to...It's pretty cool to be in this building."

And Hilliard has performed every time he's entered the "House That Allen Built." Hilliard's previous career-high came against Syracuse last season, a 25-point performance that sent Nova Nation to center court in a hurrah over a year ago.

But that time has come and gone, though the memories will last forever. Iverson's play inspired everyone to pick up a basketball at least once, but it's what the Wildcats are doing now - the No. 6 ranking and three loss season that could be Jay Wright's deepest team in years - that has everyone talking.

With a season left, Hilliard will end up being the focal point for Villanova if their offense were to ever falter, something that's happened more than once already this season. But when they have looked stagnant, like the opening minutes against Marquette, Hilliard has always been there to pick up the pieces.

His moment in the spotlight is coming, but his favorite from the Answer's illustrious career? An overtime sensation on the road.

"It was like an overtime game against the Washington Wizards," Hilliard said on Sunday night. "He got a steal at the end of the game and won the game for them or something like that. And of course when he had MJ shook at the foul line. A.I. is one of my favorite players."

Buzz Williams, gets a technical, likes Villanova's "spirit"

Buzz Williams will always speak his mind when it comes to the game of basketball. That's just who he is and he'll express himself no matter the circumstance. But on Sunday afternoon, it landed him in some hot water before the end of the first half.

Williams was called for technical for arguing with referees Carl Hess and Rodger Harris after Jake Thomas slid to the baseline fighting for a loose ball. Hess told Williams at halftime that his technical came from Williams being on the floor while arguing the call, something he and a Marquette assistant were doing the entire game.

But Williams said he had great respect for Hess and Harris, he was merely trying to call a timeout.

"I wasn't doing it on purpose, I thought it was a timeout," Williams told reporters following his team's loss on Sunday afternoon.

"Jake was about two and a half feet from the baseline. I was trying to get a technical I was trying to call a timeout. I have great respect for [Hess and Harris]. I was calling timeout and heading towards where Jake was at. And I was on the floor, so in that regard they were right [for calling the technical]."

But when it came to Villanova, like his personality, Williams was very blunt about his thoughts on the nationally ranked Wildcat team.

"They're real good. They're not ranked because they're bad," Williams said, his voice now raspy after the contest. "If you're basing it exclusively on numbers, I don't think they're going to win our league or are ranked because of a number. They are really good at each phase of the game, but they play for one another. They play incredibly hard. They play with a great spirit.

All the things that really good teams do," Williams continued. "I think that they do all of those things really well. Hilliard has always caused us problems, but it's partly because we're concerned about Pinkston, Bell and Arch, those guys are all really good players. It's the collection of how they play that makes them so good."

Williams agreed that Villanova has proven that the Big East is hard to play in when one's team isn't in their home environment. Marquette ran poor sets, their play was sloppy, it wasn't their best game, but they gave the Wildcats problems at times.

Deonte Burton came off the bench and scored 11 straight points for Marquette and shut down their frontcourt defensively for spurts. Mayo stripped Hilliard and went coast-to-coast on Villanova. There are still some kinks to work out for both sides.

But Williams made it clear at the end of his post-game press conference, if Villanova wants to win the important games, Bell can't be the only part of the offense for long stretches of time. Teams will figure them out.

"Bell has to be a primary part of your scouting report, but I think that's also why they've lost three games," Williams said. "He can't exclusively be the scouting report...they are very comfortable with who they are and how they play and we did a good job on Bell but did a horrific job on Hilliard. It's kind of a give and take."

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