May 25, 2009
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech basketball guard D’Andre Bell has been cleared to play his senior year of basketball after making a visit to his surgeon last week in Los Angeles, head coach Paul Hewitt said Tuesday.
The 6-5 senior from Los Angeles, who had surgery in December to correct a congenital condition called spinal stenosis, sat out the 2008-09 season and took a red-shirt in order to be eligible in 2009-10 if cleared. Bell was allowed to begin strength and conditioning workouts and individual instruction following the Yellow Jackets’ 2008-09 season.
“We’re happy for D’Andre that his doctors have given him clearance to resume full activity,” said Hewitt Tuesday. “It means a lot to him, and it means a lot to our team as well to have him back because of the defensive ability, reliable shooting and outstanding leadership he will bring to our group. We have an outstanding recruiting class coming in, but he might be the most significant addition to next year’s team.”
Bell, who averaged 6.6 points and 2.1 rebounds during the 2007-08 season and is recognized as one of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s top defenders, visited his spinal surgeon, Dr. Robert Watkins, late last week.
“I’m an optimistic person, and I am huge on speaking things into existence,” said Bell. “Though negative thoughts may have crossed my mind at times, I never uttered that I would never play again, and the end result is a second chance.
“I told my coaches over and over that I will be fine. Now the crucial part is preparing for next season. This all means a lot to me. All my life, I’ve played basketball, and it is a large part of who I am. My mindset has altered a great deal in preparation for basketball’s departure. At the moment I am focusing on mental preparation more then anything. I refuse to let my Georgia Tech family down.”
Bell’s return gives the Yellow Jackets 11 returning letterwinners for 2009-10, five of those with significant starting experience. The senior has missed just four games in his career, all in 2006-07, and has started 33 games in three seasons, 23 of those in Atlantic Coast Conference play. He will remain in Los Angeles for the rest of the summer while working himself back into basketball condition.