A cold James Bell came through in his first two days at the Portsmouth Invitational, however Bell finished strong with a stellar performance last Saturday going for 27 points.
Bell played on Thursday, April 17th, Friday the 18th and Saturday the 19th; all three games for the Partnership. The Villanova Wildcat was stifled in his first outing, as he finished with only 5 points on 2-6 shooting (1-4 from 3). He also managed 3 rebounds and played only 19 minutes. Shayne Whittington of the Western Michigan Broncos overshadowed Bell's meager performance going for 19 points and 8 rebounds on 7-12 (4-7) in 28 minutes. The opponent, the Cherry Bekaert, consisted of Big 5 foe Langston Galloway of the Saint Joseph's Hawks and Andre Dawkins of the Duke Blue Devils. Both played efficiently, having 15 points on 5-9 shooting and 20 points on 8-17 shooting, respectively.
Tahj took a step back on Friday although playing 10 more minutes in the contest against the Sales Systems, LTD. This team included Big East alums Markel Starks of the Georgetown Hoyas and Davante Gardner of the Marquette Golden Eagles. Also on the squad was Niels Giffey of the champion Connecticut Huskies. Bell scored 1 more point in this contest, but his already-poor shooting effort got worse. Bell finished 2-11 (1-8), contributing little on the rest of the stat sheet with just 2 rebounds and 2 assists. Starks shined in this outing with 23 points on 8-14 shooting (3-4 from three). Gardner played well alongside Starks, contributing 11 points on 4-8 efficiency along with 5 rebounds.
Bell needed a big game to rid scouts of the bad tastes in their mouths, and boy did he deliver. Against Roger Brown's Restaurant, Tahj exploded for 27 points on 67% shooting, going 7-11 behind the arc. He added 7 rebounds and tallied no fouls in 26 minutes of play. He was the overall leading scorer in the match. Big names on RBR included Jordair Jett of the Saint Louis Billikens, Chaz Williams of the Massachusetts Minutemen, and fellow Big East alum Fuquan Edwin of the Seton Hall Pirates. Edwin has 15 points on 5-14 shooting with 5 assists and 2 blocks.
It remains unclear whether Bell helped or hurt his draft stock with his performance in the 4-day tournament. He ended his campaign on a positive note, however his final games as a Wildcat were not as pretty. The NBA Draft is on June 26th.