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Upside of Bell grabs Idaho’s attention

November 11, 2011
By TRAVIS HINES - T-R Sports Writer ( , Times-Republican

Sure, Marcus Bell is a pretty good basketball player right now.

The Marshalltown Community College sophomore was even ranked as one of the premier junior college players in the country by the respected recruiting website

So yeah, he's a solid player right now. But it's what he has the chance to become that has Idaho head men's basketball coach Don Verlin excited.

Article Photos

Marshalltown Community College men’s basketball players Keith Coleman, left, and Marcus Bell, right, pose for pictures before signing their letters of intent on the MCC campus. With Coleman and Bell is Tigers head coach Brynjar Brynjarsson. Coleman is a part of the 2012-13 recruiting class for Nebraska, while Bell will be joining Idaho next season.

And Verlin will have the next few years to watch Bell grow after Bell's signed National Letter of Intent with the Vandals became official Thursday night.

"Marcus has a world of upside," said Verlin in a phone conversation with the Times-Republican on Thursday.

"I think his best basketball is ahead of him. And that's what attracted me the most.

"He's a long, athletic kid who can play inside and out. He's a versatile guy."

For the California native Bell, the school's size and membership in the Western Athletic Conference, where he'll get a number of chances to play near home, made it the right fit.

"I'm really comfortable," said the 6-foot-8 forward. "It's not a very big school, but that's better because you'll get to meet everybody around the school because it's so small."

Idaho will be Bell's fourth college in four years. He left Lower Columbia College in Washington under less-than-amicable circumstances before redshirting a year at Modesto Community College in California, whose community colleges do not offer athletic scholarships, before heading to Marshalltown, where he's helped the Tigers to a 2-1 start.

"One of Marcus' keys to his future is his maturity level," said Verlin, "and I think he's really matured a lot this year.

"I think (MCC) Coach (Brynjar Brynjarsson) has really helped him with the organization and how he runs his program."

Bell agreed.

"Coming here changed my life," he said.

Brynjarsson noted Bell's ability to blossom beyond the current player he is.

"I really feel like Marcus has a chance to impact their team and be a potential starter and be a knocking-on-the-door all-conference guy," said Brynjarsson. "There's a lot to be learned and if he gets it, he's got a chance to be a hell of a player."

Verlin cited Bell's impressive length, athleticism and skill as signs of his potential.

"Those are three things that when you get to higher-level basketball that are really, really important," said the fourth-year head coach. "I think he has the versatility to play a couple different spots. Those are the kinds of things I think he has that guys his size don't have.

"He can really run and has good hands and the ability to be a good rebounder. Again, his upside is tremendous."

How much of that upside is realized will only be revealed in the future, but Bell is glad to have a place to find out.

"When I was younger, I didn't know what I was going to do after high school. Now, I do," he said. "Now that I signed, I'm just looking forward to what I'm going to do the next few years."



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