North Texas Daily

Thomas Bell assumes leadership role to lead North Texas Basketball

Thomas Bell assumes leadership role to lead North Texas Basketball

Thomas Bell assumes leadership role to lead North Texas Basketball
November 11
13:00 2021

Last season, Thomas Bell, current fifth-year forward and team captain, helped lead the North Texas basketball team to the 2021 NCAA tournament.

During the first-round against No. 4 Purdue University, Bell had 16 points and two blocks en-route to North Texas’ first-ever NCAA tournament win.

Recently, Bell was one of 11 players to make the Conference USA preseason all-conference team. The honor was voted on by the 14 head coaches in the league.

“That is a great award, but it doesn’t mean anything until I prove them right,” Bell said.

While the accolade is a symbol of Bell’s accomplishments during the previous season, graduate student and guard JJ Murray said that Bell mostly focuses on living up to their standard of play.

“He does not really care about the preseason accolades or the postseason individual accolades,” Murray said. “For him to make it shows the respect and deservedly the league has for him, and I know he is ready to go earn that now.”

Head coach Grant McCasland thinks it is a great award for Bell considering how hard he works for his teammates.

“The league recognizes that he has improved offensively and became a pivotal player for us down the stretch,” McCasland said. “It is based on what he has done in the past and his potential, out of the respect for the program he is always giving a lot in regard to his work habits, so it speaks to his hard work and how dedicated he has been working on his own individually and how he has competed as a teammate.”

Bell played in and started all 28 games last season, averaging 10.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. He ended the regular season shooting 67.1 percent from 2-point range, which was the third-best in C-USA and 36th best in the nation. Bell finished the year first on the team in blocks (33), second in rebounds (163), third in scoring (290), third in 3-pointers (32) and third in steals (20).

“I can do better,” Bell said. “I have been doing this for a long time and I want to be the best, so I come in and work every day for myself and my teammates.”

McCasland said Bell is a team player, reliable, trustworthy and has the adaptability to do anything for his team.

“Thomas was a role player on last year’s team, where it depended on what we needed, he would fill the gap,” McCasland said. “He did whatever the team needed him to do in order to win.”

Murray echoes McCasland and says that Bell puts his teammates over himself and he is driven to do his best.

“His team-first mentality, he really thinks team first,” Murray said. “He doesn’t chase individual stats or accolades, It is always about how he will help the team.”

According to McCasland, Bell is a fairly quiet individual. However, this silence does not take away from his competitive demeanor.  

“He is actually tenacious, competitive, and extremely tough,” McCasland said. “He got a quiet spirit about him, but he knows how to compete when the game is on the line.”

Murray describes Bell as someone whose grittiness on defense and offense is important to winning the big games. 

“His toughness is second to none in defensively and offensively,” Murray said. “That is what wins games and championships with skill level but also toughness, I just think his toughness and dog mentality is what impacts the team.”

McCasland loves when the game gets tough and that he can always count on Bell to do whatever it takes to win or make something happen.

“The thing about him that you love is that he does not shy away from big moments,” McCasland said. “Those kinds of separate players, sometimes you get into games where they are not sure how it is going to work out so they get passive, but he is the opposite, he puts his heart out there when the moments are the toughest he plays at his best.”

Featured Image: Senior forward Thomas Bell lays the ball up during a game against UTEP on Jan. 16, 2021. Photo by Zach Del Bello

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Lidianna Reyes

Lidianna Reyes

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