Bell-Holter to sign with Italian team [Basketball]

July 30, 2013
Damen Bell-Holter

The odds were stacked against him from the very beginning, but Damen Bell-Holter of Hydaburg didn’t care. He always did things his way.

Bell-Holter never lost focus of his dream of playing professional basketball and tomorrow he will make it reality when he signs a rookie contract with Victoria Libertas Pesaro of Italy’s first division.

“I’m from a small, little town that nobody came from,” he told me. “I’m not supposed to be playing professional basketball. I’ve really worked hard to make it happen.”

Bell-Holter last season as a senior for Oral Roberts University averaged a career-best 15.5 points and 9.4 rebounds. Other highlights saw him pump in a career high 35 points and become the first NCAA player of the season to join the 20-20 club – 20 points, 20 rebounds.

For his career, he grabbed more rebounds [878] than any other Alaska player at the NCAA D1 level. He is fourth in career points [1,389] among Alaskans. He blocked 139 shots.

Pesaro is lucky to have him – and they desperately need him. The Italian team last year had a record of 10-20 and finished 15th out of 16 teams.

The 6-foot-10, 250-pound forward is expected to compete for a starting job right away and give his new team an immediate lift.

“It’s an amazing opportunity and I’m extremely excited,” he said. “It’s a great situation for me.”

Bell-Holter, 22, had offers from other international clubs, he said, but his agent, former UCLA star Toby Bailey, advised him to go to Italy.

“My agent broke it down like this – a lot of guys have ruined their careers by chasing the money and winding up in a bad league,” he said. “This opportunity will put me in position to go on to something bigger. My goal is to play in the Euroleague.”