Tag Archives: Keion Bell

Phil Pressey declares for NBA draft, leaves behind inexperienced Mizzou backcourt

By Matthew Fairburn

Frank Haith, right, huddles with the team during a time out in the Auburn game. Missouri is 14-0 at home and winless on the road.

The Missouri Tigers will have a very different look next year with the loss of Phil Pressey, center, graduating seniors and transfers.

Missouri junior guard Phil Pressey announced his intention to enter the 2013 NBA draft, ending his career as a Tiger and leaving behind an inexperienced backcourt in Columbia.

Pressey, who has signed with an agent, announced his decision on Wednesday. According to NCAA rules, when an athlete signs with an agent her or she is no longer able to compete at the collegiate level.

Pressey’s departure comes on the heels of Negus Webster-Chen announcing he will transfer. The only other point guard who has seen significant action for Missouri this season was Keion Bell, who is a senior.

The two likely candidates to take over at point guard are Jordan Clarkson and Wesley Clark. Clarkson sat out the 2012-13 season after transferring from Tulsa, where he average 16.5 point per game as a sophomore.

Clark, meanwhile, will enter the program as a true freshman. A four-star recruit of Romulus, Mich., according to Rivals.com, Clark has the promise to become Missouri’s starting point guard eventually, but it’s tough say how much he will contribute right away. Even Pressey only started 12 games as a true freshman.

Pressey’s production won’t be easy to replace. While he shot only 37 percent from the field, he averaged 11.9 points and 7.1 assists per game this season, setting the Missouri career record for assists in the process.

Despite the impressive statistics, Pressey was plagued by questionable decision-making late in games and finished his career 0-3 in NCAA tournament games. Leaving Missouri without winning was the hardest part of the decision for him.

“I wish we could have brought home a national championship banner, but coming to Mizzou was the best decision of my life,” Pressey said in a release from the school.

Beyond the depleted backcourt, Missouri also has to find a way to replace seniors Laurence Bowers and Alex Oriakhi, who accounted for a big chunk of the team’s production in the paint. Tony Criswell received more minutes than any returning frontcourt player, but the team’s roster is inexperienced in that area as well.

With three scholarships remaining, coach Frank Haith still has a chance to add to the roster. With the departure of Phil Pressey, the last of coach Mike Anderson’s recruits is now gone, and the Tigers’ roster for the 2013-14 season will have been built entirely by Haith and his staff.

A closer look at Phil Pressey’s draft stock

By John Guminski

Phil Pressey will skip his final year of college and head to the NBA draft.

Phil Pressey will skip his final year of college and head to the NBA draft.

On Wednesday Missouri point guard Phil Pressey announced that he would forgo his senior season and enter the NBA draft.

Coming off an impressive 2011-2012 campaign, Pressey was selected as the 2012-2013 pre-season Southeastern Conference player of the year.  That season he shot 42.8 percent, averaged 2.4 turnovers and the team finished with an overall record of 30-5.

However, multiple late-game collapses this season doomed the Tigers to a 23-11 record, including a first round loss to Colorado State in the NCAA tournament.

Immediately following the announcement many fans took to Twitter and questioned Pressey’s decision and his draft stock. ESPN’s Chad Ford, a leading NBA draft analyst, projects Pressey will go late in the second round — if he gets drafted at all. The draft consists of two rounds with 30 selections per round for a total of 60 players selected.

Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com has seven point guards ahead of Pressey on his draft board. After the announcement Goodman tweeted, “I think people know how I feel about Phil Pressey, but I believe he made a poor choice deciding to leave for NBA.”

The No. 1 point guard prospect in the 2013 draft is Michigan’s Trey Burke, projected by Ford to be the sixth pick overall. The 6-foot sophomore played a crucial role for the Wolverines’ run to the NCAA Championship. Below is a comparison of Burke and Pressey’s statistics for the season.

Pressey Burke
Points Per Game

11.9

18.6

Field Goal Percentage

37.60

46.30

Assists Per Game

7.1

6.7

Turnovers Per Game

3.5

2.2

Steals Per Game

1.8

1.6

Burke shot the ball better, turned it over less and distributes the ball almost as well as Pressey.

It is worth comparing Burke last year to Pressey  this year. Both men were thrust into a starting role with little support off the bench. Burke played 36 minutes per game, averaged 15 points, five assists, one steal and three turnovers.

Burke’s decision to return to Michigan might have been made easier due to the talent that surrounded him during this season. Pressey might not have that kind of support next year as Missouri loses team leaders Alex Oriaki, Keion Bell and Laurence Bowers.

Pressey’s father, Paul Pressey, is an assistant coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have four picks in the 2013 draft.

The next step for Pressey is preparing for the NBA Draft combine on May 15-19 in Chicago. The NBA draft is scheduled for June 27.

Haith still waiting for Missouri roster to click

By the Associated Press

Teammates Phil Pressey (1) Keion Bell (5) Laurence Bowers (21) and  Earnest Ross (33) take the floor against No.5 Florida on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.

Inconsistent play has plagued the Tigers this season, with veterans Phil Pressey (1) and Laurence Bowers (21) and transfer Keion Bell (5.) Along with Earnest Ross (33) in this Feb. 19, 2013, file photo.

ST. LOUIS — All season, Missouri flashed signs it could be a dangerous team come March. Unfortunately, there were nearly as many times that it showed much less promise.

There is a reason the Tigers are a No. 9 seed in the Midwest Regional. Coach Frank Haith has had to integrate a group of transfers into the system.

“It has been a challenge, but it’s been a challenge that’s come together because we’re still playing,” Haith said.

Leading rebounder Alex Oriakhi (Connecticut) and guard Keion Bell (Pepperdine), who led the team in scoring in Southeastern Conference games, are one-year senior rentals. Sophomore Jabari Brown (Oregon) is averaging 13.7 points and junior Earnest Ross (Auburn) is the SEC’s best player off the bench, averaging 10 points and five rebounds.

The Sporting News ranked that one of the best transfer classes in history.

The Tigers (23-10) are the only major school in the nation with six players averaging in double figures and are second in the country in rebounding, reflecting depth and versatility. But they have yet to put it all together for Haith, last year’s national coach of the year, and get a tough test out of the box against No. 8 seed Colorado State (25-8) on Thursday in Lexington, Ky.

Missouri was a perfect 16-0 at home, including a victory over then-No. 5 Florida, but just 2-8 on the road.

“You’re not going to play a team that’s not any good,” Haith said. “So, if you don’t play with a sense of urgency, you’re going to be going home.”

The 6-foot-8 Oriakhi has been a presence inside, averaging 11 points and 8.6 rebounds. He has taken on a much larger role than he had with Connecticut’s national title team in 2011.

Haith often touted Bell for all-SEC honors. The last 11 games of the regular season, Bell averaged 15.7 points on 58 percent shooting.

Brown leads the team in 3-pointers even though he wasn’t eligible until the semester break in mid-December, and had a pair of 23-point efforts. Ross had a season-high 23 points against Auburn, his old school.

Melding that group with point guard Phil Pressey, the lone holdover starter from the 30-win team in Haith’s first season, has not been easy. Pressey was a first-team All-SEC pick with six games of 10 or more assists and four double-doubles for points and assists, a school record, yet struggled with a spate of questionable late-game decisions.

The tournament gives Pressey a chance to put those troubles behind him.

“It doesn’t matter who you play, anybody can be beat, everybody brings their A game come NCAA tournament,” Pressey said. “Our mind-set is we’re going win the whole thing, so we’re going to bring our A game just like everybody else.”

Forward Laurence Bowers, who missed last season with a knee injury, is the only other player with NCAA experience.

“A lot of teams don’t get this opportunity,” Bowers said. “So whenever you see your name it brings, I don’t know, it’s kind of joyous.”

Missouri is in the tournament for the fifth straight season, matching the school’s longest runs, from 1986-90 under Norm Stewart and from 1999-03 under Stewart and Quin Snyder.

Bowers, Mizzou welcome back Mike Anderson with a 93-63 win over Arkansas

By Matthew Fairburn

Columbia, Mo.— When Arkansas coach Mike Anderson made his way out of the tunnel and onto Norm Stewart Court on Tuesday night for the first time since leaving Missouri in 2011, he was greeted with a chorus of boos from the Tiger fans at Mizzou Arena.

As it turned out, the boos were the least of his problems, as Missouri (22-8 overall, 11-6 in the Southeastern Conference) dominated the game from the opening tip, sending Arkansas (18-12, 8-8) home with a 93-63 loss.

“They had a lot of things going in their direction, so you have to give them credit,” Anderson said after the game. “It was a great atmosphere.”

The atmosphere was made more emotional by a pre-game ceremony honoring Missouri’s three seniors: Laurence Bowers, Alex Oriakhi and Keion Bell.

Bowers stole the show against the coach that recruited him to Missouri though. For the second straight game, Bowers finished with a double-double and paced his team with 24 points and 11 rebounds.

“This is was the way I wanted to go out my senior night,” Bowers said. “We got the win.”

The heightened excitement in the building affected the Tigers in the early going.

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Mizzou forward Alex Oriakhi named SEC Player of the Week

By Matthew Fairburn

Missouri forward Alex Oriakhi earned Player of the Week honors in the Southeastern Conference on Monday after recording his 10th double-double of the season on Saturday against Louisiana State University.

In Missouri’s two wins last week over LSU and South Carolina, Oriakhi shot 15-17 from the field and averaged 18 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.

“All the credit goes to my teammates,” Oriakhi said. “They give me the ball in position, all I have to do is dunk it. I’m just glad to be winning. I’ll take winning over everything.”

Oriakhi’s strong play comes at just the right time for the Tigers, who are making a push to receive one of the top four seeds in the SEC and ensure a double bye in the conference tournament.

On Tuesday, Missouri (21-8 overall, 10-6 in the SEC) takes on Arkansas (18-11, 9-7) in its final home game of the season. While the game marks Arkansas coach Mike Anderson’s first trip to Mizzou Arena since leaving Missouri in 2011, the game will be emotional for a different reason; it’s senior night for the Tigers.

Laurence Bowers, Keion Bell and Oriakhi will all be honored before the game. While Bowers has played a full career at Missouri, Bell and Oriakhi have spent only one season on the court for the Tigers. Still, Oriakhi expects it to be a memorable night.

“It feels like I belong here for some reason,” Oriakhi said. “I don’t know what the emotions will be like, but Mizzou has definitely been special to me.”

The Supervising Editor on this story was Megan Rentschler

Hot-shooting Mizzou beats South Carolina 90-68

By the Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. — On a night where Missouri shot almost 70 percent from the field, the Tigers knew the key player was someone who never shot the ball.

Point guard Phil Pressley had nine assists, running the offense for Missouri (20-8, 9-6 Southeastern Conference) almost to perfection in the Tigers 90-68 win over South Carolina on Thursday night.

“A guy can affect the game like that without taking a shot in a positive way. There are few guys in the country that can do that,” Missouri coach Frank Haith said.

Missouri shot 69.6 percent (32 of 46) for the game, and plenty of those baskets were easy. The Tigers had 10 dunks and 46 points in the paint to pick up just their second win on the road this season. Missouri shot just nine 3-pointers, making six of them against overmatched South Carolina (13-15, 3-12).

Plenty of those plays were set up by Pressley, the SEC leader in assists at seven a game.

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Mizzou starts out strong but can’t hold on, loses to Arkansas 73-71

By Matthew Fairburn

Before Missouri’s game against Arkansas on Saturday, all of the talk surrounded former Missouri coach Mike Anderson, who was patrolling the Razorback sideline. During the game, the attention was focused on the rough play between two developing rivals. And in the final minute, the officials stole the spotlight, making a series of controversial calls that contributed to Arkansas’ 73-71 victory over Missouri on Saturday in front of a sold-out Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, Ark.

The Tigers stormed out to a 9-0 lead to start the game, but that’s as wide a score margin as the game would have all afternoon. The teams swapped leads several times in the final minutes of the second half.

With Missouri (18-7, 7-5 Southeastern Conference) on top by four with fewer than 30 seconds to play, Arkansas’ (16-9, 7-5) B.J. Young drove to the basket and drew a foul from Keion Bell. Despite traveling on the play, Young finished with a layup and was sent to the line to complete the three-point play.

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Mizzou pounds Mississippi State for first round win of season, 78-36

By Mathew Fairburn

As the time drained off the clock in the second half of Missouri’s 78-36 win over Mississippi State, a sense of relief spread across the Tiger bench. The team’s six-game road losing streak had finally come to an end.

For weeks, the Tigers have fielded questions regarding the team’s struggles on the road. After back-to-back road losses at LSU and Texas A&M by a combined five points that pushed Missouri’s road record to 0-4 in the SEC, the team was all out of answers.

As it turned out, the answer was in Starkville, Miss., where the Bulldogs had lost eight straight games and came into Wednesday’s contest with a 2-8 record in conference.

Missouri (18-6, 7-4 Southeastern Conference) took advantage early, storming out to a 14-0 lead, holding Mississippi State (7-16, 2-9) scoreless for nearly 10 minutes of play to start the game.

“I thought our kids played hard and played well defensively,” Missouri coach Frank Haith said. “That was the difference. We haven’t been doing that.”

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Ross torments old team, scores 23 in Mizzou win over Auburn

Photos by Matthew Fairburn
Story by the Associated Press

Missouri guard Keion Bell drives to the basket for two of his 24 points. Bell shot 9-13 from the field on Saturday.

Missouri guard Keion Bell drives to the basket for two of his 24 points. Bell shot 9-13 from the field on Saturday.

Keion Bell scored 24 points and Earnest Ross added 23, both season highs, as No. 17 Missouri used another strong second half to beat Auburn 91-77 on Saturday.

Ross hit five 3-pointers off the bench in his first game against his former team. The 6-foot-5, 222-pound guard played two seasons at Auburn, leading the team with 13.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. He said it was satisfying to defeat his former teammates, but took more pride in getting the victory.

Missouri's Earnest Ross battles for rebounding position against his former team. Missouri beat Auburn 91-77 on Saturday.

Missouri’s Earnest Ross battles for rebounding position against his former team.

“Very, very excited for a team win,” Ross said. “And that’s what we need. Because in order for the team to win, we all have to play well and tonight I think we did that.”

The teams combined for 49 fouls and 69 free throws but the slogging pace didn’t seem to affect Missouri (16-5, 5-3 Southeastern Conference), which shot 54.5 percent from the floor after shooting 38 percent in a 73-70 loss at LSU on Wednesday.

Frankie Sullivan led Auburn (8-13, 2-6) with 12 points, while Rob Chubb and Chris Denson both had 10.

The Tigers moved to 13-0 at Mizzou Arena, joined by only Florida in the SEC as unbeaten teams at home. Missouri also benefited from having its full roster of players available to play for just the third time this season.

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Early energy helps Mizzou cruise to 81-59 win over Vanderbilt

Story by Matthew Fairburn
Photos by Karen Mitchell

Keion Bell (5) cheers after a Missouri basket that help widen the first half lead over Vanderbilt. Missouri lead 49-20 at the half, going on to beat Vanderbilt 81-59 Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo.

Keion Bell (5) cheers after a Missouri basket that help widen the first half lead over Vanderbilt. Missouri lead 49-20 at the half, going on to beat Vanderbilt 81-59 Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo. Photo by Karen Mitchell

Alex Oriakhi goes in for the dunk, getting two of his 18 points Saturday.

beat Vanderbilt 81-59 Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo. Photo by Karen Mitchell

COLUMBIA — Maybe it was the distinct size advantage Missouri held down low. Maybe it was the return of Keion Bell, who had missed a week with a sprained ankle. Or maybe it was the fact that, for the first time in weeks, Missouri coach Frank Haith wasn’t staring down the barrel of NCAA allegations from his time at Miami.

Whatever the reason, the Missouri men’s basketball team came out energized in its 81-59 win over Vanderbilt in front of a sellout crowd of 15,061 at Mizzou Arena on Saturday.

“I will go to our defensive intensity in the first half,” Haith said after the game. “That was the key to our success. I thought it was our best game on that end of the court, and that really spurred us on the offensive end.”

The Commodores jumped out to an 11-8 lead, but the Tigers made sure it didn’t last. Missouri proceeded to go on a 38-4 run, spanning nearly 13 minutes of play.

Seven days after injuring his ankle in Missouri’s 31-point loss to Florida, Bell returned to action and claimed a spot in the Tigers’ starting lineup.

Bell got the Tigers started with a steal, giving him a clear lane to the basket. A few effortless strides later, Bell peaked over his shoulder and finished the play with a two-hand slam that sent a buzz throughout the crowd.

The week off served him well.

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