‘It was the right decision:’ Xavier Bell comes home to play for Wichita State

Wichita native Xavier Bell is coming back to where it all started. 

After playing the past two seasons at Drexel, Bell announced through social media last Friday that he would be transferring to Wichita State for the 2022-23 season. Bell has three years of eligibility remaining. 

“It was the right decision for me,” Bell said. “It was a big emphasis since entering the portal to move closer back home and I think as the process went on, I kept my mind open to pretty much everywhere but narrowing it down and talking it over with my parents, we felt it was the right decision.”

Bell’s commitment comes after six WSU players entered the transfer portal — Chaunce Jenkins, Clarence Jackson, Joe Pleasant, Qua Grant, Dexter Dennis and Morris Udeze — following a 15-13 season. Ricky Council has also declared for the NBA Draft, while maintaining his collegiate eligibility.

Bell is the first player to join the Shockers this offseason and is in a position of need. With the anticipated departure of Tyson Etienne, Bell will join Craig Porter and Jalen Ricks as the lone guards on scholarship.

“I’m excited,” Bell said about returning home. “I know the energy in the arena is always crazy, especially when I attended a couple games when I was younger, but really just looking forward to competing every day with the group of guys that will be coming in and trying to win.”

Bell played his high school basketball at nearby Andover Central, scoring 1,710 points during his career. Bell averaged 24.6 points and 7.3 rebounds during his senior season.

The 6-foot-3 guard took a big leap with Drexel this past season, averaging 11.0 points per game on 49.2% shooting, both career-highs. Bell also shot 35.7% on three-pointers during the 2021-22 season, which is higher than any Shocker’s percentage this past season.

“I feel like I took a step forward as far as developing my game as far as on the offensive end and on the defensive end, I feel like I can impact the game in multiple ways,” Bell said. “Whether that be scoring and if not, I can create for my teammates, get downhill and on the defensive end, just being a good defensive wing. Just helping my team wherever I need to be.

Bell said he’s focused on continuing his improvement now at a higher level of competition in the American Athletic Conference. Bell thrived against a higher level of competition while at Drexel, with his offensive improving to 116.2 against top-100 opponents, according to KenPom. 

Bell also scored 12 points off the bench against Illinois during the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

“Just continuing what I’ve been doing, I don’t want to hit any bumps in the road,” Bell said. “I just want to keep working hard and developing my game in every way that I can and bringing the right energy to practice and that winning attitude.”

Bell becomes the fourth Shocker to return home in the past four years, joining Semajae Haynes-Jones (2017-19), Grant Sherfield (2019-20) and current Shocker Steele Gaston-Chapman, who earned a scholarship with WSU last season.

“That’s my boy,” Bell said of Gaston-Chapman. “I grew up playing basketball with him, we grew up going to the same summer school so, it’ll definitely be fun playing with him too.”

If Council opts to return from the NBA Draft, WSU will have seven scholarships available for next season, with Bell figuring to be in the rotation. Head Coach Isaac Brown and the rest of the Shocker coaching staff have been active in the transfer market, looking to fill out the rest of the roster.

“It’ll be fun,” Bell said. “I think this summer is a big summer for us as far as taking the right steps into having the right attitude coming in toward the season and the right momentum.”