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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Xavier Bell overcomes shooting slump to take larger role with Wichita State basketball

Mia Hennen
Junior guard Xavier Bell looks for a teammate to pass to during the game against Rogers State on Oct. 29. The Shockers won, 74-53.

Junior guard Xavier Bell is the son of former Wichita State football player Wayne Bell. His namesake is his father’s classmate and Shocker basketball legend, Xavier McDaniel. After Bell’s senior year of high school at Andover Central, he was labeled “Mr. Basketball” by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association.

Last season, Bell transferred to Wichita State after spending his first two seasons at Drexel University. At first, his return to Wichita wasn’t a dream homecoming.

Midway through the season, Bell found himself in a shooting slump. After the Feb. 2 loss to Houston, his three-point shooting percentage dipped to a miserable 7/45 — a 16% dip.

“I feel like I put a lot of pressure on myself to come out and be this and be that instead of just understanding that I’m only Xavier at the end of the day,” Bell said.

During the final 10 games of the season, Bell found his groove. He shot 48% from the field and 6/12 from the three-point line while playing a larger role in the team.

Bell said his shooting ability is heavily influenced by confidence, something that he worked on throughout the season.

“A lot of times, I’ve let a couple of misses get to my head when, at the end of the day; they’re just misses,” Bell said. “If I want to keep shooting, if I’m going to make the next shot, I’ve got to take the next shot.”

Now, in his second season as a Shocker and first with the new coaching staff under Paul Mills, Bell said that he’s trying to be a “helping hand” for the team.

“I did kind of take it upon myself to be that person that steps up and is like, ‘Hey if you need somebody to do this, if you need somebody to do that, I’m the guy,’” Bell said.

Ronnie DeGray III, a junior forward who transferred to Wichita State from the University of Missouri this year, said that Bell helped him acclimate to the city and team.

“He just kept it real with me, just how much time it is, and some days are good, and some are bad, but we just got to keep on going,” DeGray said. “He’s just kept the leadership role so far, and I really appreciate it.”

Bell said his familiarity with Wichita and experience with the team have given him the confidence to transition from mentee to mentor.

“This is my fourth year in college now,” Bell said. “Just understanding that and knowing that I’m not really a kid anymore, so I can’t always just sit back in the shadows.”

As for what it’s like to play for the team he grew up watching, Bell gave a glowing review.

“It’s just all surreal and really just mind-blowing,” Bell said. “It’s been a long journey, but I’m here now, and just knowing that the best is only ahead of me.”

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About the Contributors
Jacob Unruh, Reporter
Jacob Unruh is a reporter for The Sunflower. He is a junior at Wichita State majoring in journalism and minoring in political science. This is Unruh's first year on staff. He goes by he/him pronouns.
Mia Hennen, Editor in Chief
Mia Hennen is the current editor in chief for The Sunflower. Before becoming editor, Hennen was the news/managing editor. They are a junior at Wichita State majoring in English and minoring in communications and Spanish, hoping to pursue any career involving writing or editing. Hennen uses they/them pronouns.

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