Waves End Regular Season at San Diego
Courtesy: Pepperdine Sports Information
Pepperdine Men's Basketball Notes
THE FACTS - The Pepperdine men's basketball team closes out the regular season at San Diego on Saturday. The West Coast Conference Tournament begins next Friday in Las Vegas. Depending on what happens during the final day of action, the Waves could be seeded between #6 and #8.
GAME #30 - Saturday (Feb. 27) at the Jenny Craig Pavilion in San Diego, Calif.: Pepperdine (7-22, 3-10) at San Diego (9-20, 2-11) at 6 p.m.
ON THE WEB - Subscribers to "Wave Casts" can catch all Pepperdine men's basketball games on the internet at www.pepperdinesports.com. Veteran play-by-play man Al Epstein, now in his 25th season with the Waves, is behind the microphone. Most home games will have live audio and video, while road games will be audio only. Go to the Pepperdine Athletics website and look for the Wave Casts link. Live statistics will be available for all home matches free of charge, and links are provided to the home team's website when the Waves are on the road.
SAN DIEGO - Pepperdine is 53-33 all-time against San Diego. The Toreros have won six straight at home and 10 of the last 11 overall.
LAST TIME VS. SAN DIEGO - Back on Jan. 30 in Firestone Fieldhouse ... Pepperdine's offense could never get going and the result was a 66-44 victory for San Diego. The Waves were held to 25.5% shooting for the game. Only Mychel Thompson was able to find the mark, as he made five of 11 shots and scored 14 points. Keion Bell made three shots and scored eight points, but no else had more than four points or more than one made field goal. USD led 29-23 at halftime and was still up only six at 34-28 with a little more than 17 minutes to play, but the Waves went nearly 15 minutes without a field goal as the Toreros pulled ahead 64-38.
LAST GAME - Pepperdine lost at Saint Mary's, 76-48, on Thursday night. Mychel Thompson had 11 points, four rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots, and Jonathan Dupre' added nine points and five rebounds. The Gaels outshot the Waves 46.3% to 34.5% and held a 34-17 halftime lead.
ROSTER - There are no seniors on the 2009-10 squad, and 11 of the 15 players are underclassmen. The roster features four juniors, seven sophomores and four true freshmen. Pepperdine returned 11 letterwinners from last season (believed to be among the most in school history). Twelve players are on scholarship and three are walk-ons.
SOPHOMORE SCORERS - Last season, Pepperdine's eight-man freshman class scored more than half of the Waves' points (57.4%). So far, the now-sophomore class has contributed nearly two-thirds (63.4%) of Pepperdine's scoring. The sophomores have been the top-scoring class in every game but two this season.
THE TRIO - The Waves have been at their best when Keion Bell, Mychel Thompson and Lorne Jackson all have good games on the same night. In conference play, they have averaged a combined 39.0 points per game (that's more than 60 percent of all of the Waves' scoring).
KEION BELL - Sophomore guard Keion Bell (Los Angeles, Calif./Pasadena HS) has been one of the most exciting and prolific players on the West Coast in 2009-10. He is currently averaging 18.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists. He now ranks #2 in the WCC and #45 in the nation in scoring (he ranked as high as ninth nationally in early December). He is the sixth-highest-scoring sophomore in the country.
At various points this season, he has been one of just a handful of players in the nation averaging at least 20.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists. Bell has scored more than 20 points in 14 games this season, including a career-high 37 at Gonzaga. He's been in double-figures in every game but four. At the pace he's on, he could become Pepperdine's 35th 1,000-point scorer by the end of his sophomore season (he's got 961). In the WCC rankings, he's also seventh in assists, eighth in steals (1.3) and 15th in rebounding (5.3).
MYCHEL THOMPSON - Junior forward Mychel Thompson (Portland, Ore./Stoneridge Prep) was selected as team captain for 2009-10 after a landslide vote by his teammates. He is Pepperdine's only player that has been with the team for two full seasons. Thompson is averaging 12.0 points this season (second-best on the team) and 9.8 points for his career. He has broken into Pepperdine's career top 10 in three-pointers made this season (he's now #7 with 139, Brandon Armstong is #6 at 142). He's been in double-figures in 11 of the last 14 games and is averaging 12.9 ppg in conference play. He scored a career-high-tying 25 points in a win vs. Utah. Since starting the season 0-for-21 from beyond the arc, he's improved to 34.8% for the season. Thompson's 6-for-7 three-point performance vs. LMU nearly equaled the school record for single-game percentage (6-for-6, 1.000).
SUTTLE OUT - Sophomore guard/forward Dane Suttle Jr. (Los Angeles, Calif./Summit College Prep) will miss the remainder of the season and will have surgery on an injured left ankle. His last appearance was on Feb. 13 at Santa Clara. He was a key contributor through the non-conference season and was one of the top three-point shooters in the conference midway through the year. Through the first 16 games of the season, he was averaging 10.8 points per game, second on the team. But as his chronic ankle injury worsened, his output declined, and in West Coast Conference play he averaged 2.4 points. His final season stats will show four starts in 24 games with averages of 7.7 points and 2.5 rebounds in 19.1 minutes.
2009-10 HONORS - Keion Bell was named to the preseason All-WCC first team ... Bell (26.7 ppg) was named MVP of the World Vision Challenge at Wyoming and Dane Suttle Jr. (15.3 ppg) also made the all-tournament team ... Mychel Thompson was named WCC co-Player of the Week on Jan. 11 after scoring a game-high 22 points and making six of seven three-pointers in a win vs. LMU ... Lorne Jackson was named WCC co-Player of the Week on Jan. 18 after averaging 18.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocks in victories over Santa Clara and San Francisco ... Pepperdine has two WCC POTW honors in the same season for the first time since 2004-05, and had its first back-to-back winners since December 2002.
2009-10 NOTABLES - The Waves were down 12 to Cal State San Bernardino with 8 1/2 minutes to play but came back to win by three ... The Waves were the team champion at the World Vision Challenge in Wyoming ... Pepperdine's win over Utah came against a 2009 NCAA Tournament team ... In the 150th meeting ever with LMU, the Waves came back from a 17-point first-half deficit to post a victory in the first game of WCC play ... Pepperdine beat Santa Clara at home for the 13th time in the last 14 meetings ... Pepperdine started 2-0 in league play for the first time since 2005 and 3-0 for the first time since 2002 (a year that the Waves started 11-0 en route to a 13-1 record and a tie for first in the WCC with Gonzaga) ... At 3-0, the Waves were three games over .500 in league play for the first time since 2004 ... Although it was a loss, the Waves' seven-point loss at Gonzaga was an excellent effort and gave them their closest margin of defeat in Spokane in the last 10 years.
BELL'S 37-POINT GAME - The 37-point performance by Keion Bell at Gonzaga on Jan. 21 was extremely memorable for many reasons: 34 of the 37 points came in the second half ... He set the McCarthey Athletic Center record for points by an opponent ... Along with his 34-point game vs. Monmouth, he has the two highest scoring games in the WCC this season ... His second-half slam dunk over Gonzaga 7-footer Robert Sacre made ESPN SportsCenter's Plays of the Day ... Bell made 14 of 21 shots, three of four three-pointers and six of eight free throws ... He scored 22 of Pepperdine's first 24 second-half points in an eight-minute span ... The last time a Pepperdine player scored more points was in January 2001 when Brandon Armstrong notched 40 against Loyola Marymount ... It tied as the 24th-best single-game performance in Pepperdine history, and by players other than scoring great Bird Averitt, it was the eighth best.
RETURNERS - Four of the five starters from last year's team return (Keion Bell, Taylor Darby, Corbin Moore and Mychel Thompson). Pepperdine's returning players account for 82.5% percent of last year's scoring (1629/1974), 88.3% of the rebounds (919/1041), 65.4% of the assists (223/341), 95.0% of the blocked shots (96/101) and 77.2% of the steals (166/215).
WCC PRESEASON POLL - According to the WCC's coaches, the Waves are predicted to finish seventh in the conference. Their poll went in the following order: Gonzaga, Portland, Saint Mary's, San Francisco and Santa Clara (tied), San Diego, Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount. Several national publications and websites have differing opinions on the Waves, including fourth (The Sporting News), fifth (The Sports Network), sixth (Athlon and Lindy's) and seventh (Rivals.com, CBSSports.com and CollegeHoops.net).
TELEVISION - The Waves are slated to appear on television several times once again in 2009-10. Six games will be shown locally - Nov. 23 at UCLA on Fox Sports West, Jan. 14 vs. Santa Clara on ESPNU, Jan. 21 at Gonzaga on Prime Ticket (delayed), Jan. 30 vs. San Diego on Prime Ticket, Feb. 18 vs. Portland on Prime Ticket and Feb. 20 vs. Gonzaga on Fox Sports West.
YOUTUBE SENSATION - Keion Bell, a preseason All-WCC first team selection, got Pepperdine a ton of publicity in mid-October. At Blue & Orange Madness, Pepperdine's event to kick off the start of practice, the sophomore guard finished up the dunk contest by leaping over five teammates and slamming it home. A Pepperdine fan happened to record the dunk on his iPhone and uploaded it onto YouTube. It quickly spread around the internet and at last check had nearly 1.1 million hits. ESPN's SportsCenter picked up the video and made the dunk the #2 Play of the Day.
TOM ASBURY - Now in his second stint in charge of the Waves is coaching great Tom Asbury. He returned to Malibu prior to the 2008-09 campaign to become the Waves' head coach again after 14 seasons away. Asbury was previously at Pepperdine for nine years as an assistant coach (1980-88) and then the next six as the head coach (1989-94). He went on to serve as head coach at Kansas State from 1995-2000 and was an assistant coach at Alabama from 2004-07. Asbury went 125-59 (.679) in his first head coaching job at Pepperdine and took the Waves to the postseason five times in six years with three NCAA Tournament appearances (1991, '92, '94) and two in the NIT (1989, '93). Pepperdine won three regular-season WCC titles and the school's only three WCC Tournament championships came under Asbury. Prior to the start of the 2009-10 season, his seven-year record at Pepperdine was 134-82 (.620) and his 13-year record as a head coach was 219-170 (.563).
ASSISTANTS - Upon his return, Tom Asbury wanted to find assistants with a passion for Pepperdine and an understanding of its mission, so he turned to three former student-athletes. It's believed that Duke and Pepperdine have the only two college basketball staffs where the assistant coaches are all alums. Associate head coach Marty Wilson (1985-89) and assistant coaches Damin Lopez (1990-94) and Will Kimble (2001-03) played in three different eras, all successful. In the 13 seasons that made up their playing careers, Pepperdine went a combined 261-135 (.659), had 12 winning seasons, won six WCC regular-season titles and three WCC tournament titles, and made six NCAA Tournaments and four NITs.
HECTOR HAROLD - There are no seniors on the roster but Pepperdine had one scholarship to offer for 2010-11. During the early signing period, they inked Hector Harold, a 6-foot-6 small forward from the Northfield Mount Hermon (Mass.) School. He was given a rating of 88 out of 100 by ESPN.com's recruiting site and is considered one of the top seniors in New England. He is originally from Pasadena, Calif.
NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE - Tom Asbury believes in preparing his team for league play with a difficult non-conference slate of games, and so that's what the Waves did for the first 16 games of the season. The Waves played six games against non-conference teams that took part in the postseason last year: Portland State, UCLA and Utah made the NCAA Tournament, Miami (Fla.) was in the NIT, Wyoming was in the College Basketball Invitational and Pacific was in the inaugural CollegeInsider.com Tournament. Nine of the 16 non-conference games were at home.
LAST SEASON - Tom Asbury's return to Pepperdine brought much-needed stability to the program in his first season back. With only five players returning, Asbury and his new staff brought in 10 newcomers well after the regular letter-of-intent signing period. The young Waves posted a 9-23 overall record but got much better as the year went on, placing sixth in the WCC with a 5-9 record and winning a first-round game at the WCC Tournament. Keion Bell was named to the WCC All-Freshman team after averaging a team-best 12.9 ppg.
PEPPERDINE HISTORY - This is the 72nd season of Pepperdine basketball, and the Waves opened 2009-10 with an all-time record of 1,111-910 (.550). Pepperdine has been to the NCAA Tournament 13 times (last in 2002), and has won 12 West Coast Conference regular-season titles (last in 2002) and three WCC Tournament crowns (last in 1994).
BEST IN THE WEST - Pepperdine has long been one of the top Division I programs on the West Coast. Over the 31-season period from the 1978-79 season through the 2008-09 campaign, of the 32 schools that currently play Division I basketball in California, Oregon or Washington, the Waves began the 2009-10 season ranking third overall in postseason appearances (16) and fifth in both wins (525) and winning percentage (.565) over the past 31 years.
WAVES IN THE PROS - This is the 34th consecutive season where at least one Pepperdine alum has been on an NBA roster. Currently in the NBA is Yakhouba Diawara, now in his fourth season overall and his second with the Miami Heat. A total of 16 former Pepperdine players have gone on to play in the NBA, most notably Dennis Johnson (the 1979 NBA Finals MVP) and Doug Christie (a 15-year NBA veteran who was a mainstay on the All-Defensive Team). Some recent standouts have been playing in foreign countries, including Alex Acker (Italy), Tezale Archie (Netherlands), Brandon Armstrong (Venezuela), Gerald Brown (Poland), Jelani Gardner (Greece), Kelvin Gibbs (Germany), Chase Griffin (Germany), Dana Jones (Switzerland) and Glen McGowan (Dominican Republic). Robert "Hollywood" Turner, formerly a member of the Harlem Globetrotters, is now playing in Finland. ABOUT PEPPERDINE - Pepperdine boasts a one-of-a-kind athletic department with unprecedented success for a school of its size. The Waves have won a total of nine NCAA championships in five different men's sports - one of just 14 schools to have accomplished this feat. Of the 14, Pepperdine is the only non-BCS school and has by far the smallest enrollment. The majority of Pepperdine's teams are ranked nationally year after year and compete for conference and national titles.
Pepperdine Team Report
Yahoo! Sports Feb 23, 3:07 am EST
As Pepperdine continues to sink toward the bottom of the West Coast Conference standings, there remains one promising aspect of the season: the play of sophomore guard Keion Bell.
Although he has been unable to lift the Waves to the top half of the WCC standings, Bell continues to put up big numbers, and with two seasons left assuming he does not turn pro, he could be the top player in the conference by his senior season.
Bell is among the WCC’s top players, behind only Omar Samhan of St. Mary’s and Matt Bouldin of Gonzaga, and on par with Elias Harris of Gonzaga and Dior Lowhorn of San Francisco, and it’s a near certainty that he will be selected to the all-conference team.
Although he must improve his shot selection and cut down on his turnovers, Bell can do virtually everything on the court. Through Feb. 22, he led the Waves in scoring and assists, was second in rebounding, and ranked second in the conference in scoring, at 19.6 a game.
The lack of surrounding talent is part of the reason Bell has taken on so much responsibility, which improves his statistics but hurts his efficiency somewhat. The loss of Dan Suttle Jr. reduced the Waves’ scoring potential further.
Despite the Waves’ nine-game losing streak as of Feb. 22, Bell continued to produce. He had 23 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots in the Feb. 18 loss to Portland, and he had 17 points and 10 boards in the Feb. 20 loss to Gonzaga.
It was in the first game against Gonzaga that Bell opened people’s eyes. In that game, Bell scored a career-high 37 points, including 34 in the second half, when the Waves made a game of it before losing by seven points.
That was the first conference loss for the Waves, and it started the downward spiral that even Bell couldn’t stop. Bell had scored more than 20 points in five games during the nine games, but it had not helped.
Bell was 43 points shy of 1,000 for his career as of Feb. 22, and he might get there in the final two regular-season games, against St. Mary’s on Feb. 25 and at San Diego Feb. 27.
The Waves’ record has prevented Bell from getting much exposure this season, but he could be the cornerstone of a Pepperdine team that should improve over the next two seasons.
—Pepperdine’s nine-game losing streak as of Feb. 22 was the longest of the season, but the Waves had a 12-game losing streak last season.
• With its Feb. 20 loss to Gonzaga, Pepperdine have lost 18 consecutive games to the Bulldogs.
• Pepperdine had 26 offensive rebounds against Gonzaga.
On The Spot: Pepperdine had lost by fewer than 16 points only once in its past eight losses, as of Feb. 22, and even in an eight-point loss to Santa Clara, the Waves were clearly outplayed. The Waves have a lot of shortcomings, but poor shooting might be the most noticeable. They shot 27.1 percent from the field in a Feb. 20 loss to Gonzaga, and were shooting 39.3 percent for the season as of Feb. 22. Mychel Thompson, the team’s second-best scoring threat after Keion Bell, was 3-for-16 against Gonzaga and 2-for-7 two days earlier against Portland.
Quote To Note: “We guarded (Keion) Bell the way we wanted to guard him.”—Gonzaga coach Mark Few, to the Spokane Spokesman-Review, on limiting Bell to 17 points on Feb. 20 after he scored 37 points in the teams’ first meeting.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Season Recap: Pepperdine had lost nine of 10 games coming into conference play, then showed some life by winning its first three conference games. But Pepperdine had regressed, having lost nine in a row as of Feb. 22. The Waves were still not in last place, but their play deteriorated as the losses mounted. Pepperdine improved late in the season last year, but the opposite is happening this season.
Player Rotation: Usual Starters—G Keion Bell, F Mychel Thompson, F Jonathan DuPre, F Taylor Darby, G Lorne Jackson. Key Subs—G Joshua Lowery, F Gus Clardy.
Santa Clara 62, Pepperdine 54
Portland 83, Pepperdine 62
Gonzaga 72, Pepperdine 54
at St. Mary’s, Thursday, Feb. 25
at San Diego, Saturday, Feb. 27
WCC Tournament at Las Vegas, Friday, March 5
In Focus: Whether Pepperdine can avoid last place probably will come down to the final regular-season game at San Diego on Feb. 27. The Toreros beat Pepperdine by 22 points earlier this season on the Waves’ home floor, but San Diego has faded since, especially since the loss of De’Jon Jackson. Keion Bell is unlikely to have as bad a game as he did in the first meeting, when he scored only eight points. With a loss, the Waves probably will fall into a last-place tie with San Diego.
• Dane Suttle Jr. will be lost for rest of the season because of an ankle problem that has bothered him doe much of the season. His playing time and production had been on a steady decline since the injury, and the Waves decided to shut him down after the Feb. 13 game. He will have surgery on the ankle after the season.
• Keion Bell had his second double-double of the season on Feb. 20 against Gonzaga when he had 17 points and 10 rebounds.
• Freshman Joshua Lowery had five points and three rebounds against Gonzaga, both personal highs in conference play.
USD Defeats Waves in Regular-Season Finale
Courtesy: Pepperdine Sports Information
Pepperdine-San Diego Box Score
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - The Pepperdine men's basketball team stayed even with San Diego for a while, but the host Toreros eventually pulled away in the second half for a 65-48 victory in the West Coast Conference regular-season finale for both schools on Saturday.
Pepperdine fell to 7-23 overall and 3-11 in the WCC, while San Diego improved to 10-20, 3-11. With the win, the Toreros edged the Waves for seeding placement at the upcoming Zappos.com West Coast Conference Tournament in Las Vegas. Pepperdine will be the #8 seed and will play rival Loyola Marymount in the first round at the Orleans Arena on Friday (March 5) at 6 p.m.
Sophomore guard Lorne Jackson (Simi Valley, Calif./Simi Valley HS) had his best game in a few weeks, as he came off the bench to score a game-high 15 points. Junior forward Jonathan Dupre' (Houston, Texas/Collin County CC) and sophomore center Corbin Moore (Cypress, Calif./Los Alamitos HS) each scored nine points. Moore tied his season-high scoring total and also had a game-high eight rebounds. Freshman guard Caleb Willis (Stockbridge, Ga./Stockbridge HS) had a season-high five assists.
The Waves trailed by as many as seven in the first half, but rallied to take a 25-24 lead with three minutes left after a basket by Jackson. USD scored the final four points and went into halftime with a 28-25 advantage, however. Dupre' sank a three-pointer to tie the game at 28 one minute into the second half, but the Toreros outscored the Waves 37-23 after halftime. USD was led by Roberto Mafra's 13 points, Brandon Johnson's 11 points and Chris Lewis' 10 points. The Toreros had a 46.3%-42.2% shooting edge from the field and made nine three-pointers to Pepperdine's three.
Pepperdine, which has no seniors and has a roster where 11 of the 15 players are underclassmen, was led in scoring by its sophomore class for the 28th time in 30 games.
Fans can listen to Al Epstein's broadcasts of all of Pepperdine men's and women's games at the WCC Tournament at http://www.pepperdinesports.com/?SID=90183&SPID=10851&DB_OEM_ID=18500 with a subscription to Wave Casts.
San Diego 65, Pepperdine 48Associated PressSAN DIEGO -- Roberto Mafra scored 13 points as San Diego beat Pepperdine 65-48 on Saturday night, handing the Waves their 11th straight loss.
San Diego (10-20, 3-11 West Coast) snapped its six-game losing streak and won for just the second time in 13 games. The Toreros shot 61.9 percent in the second half to pull away after holding a 28-25 halftime lead.
Brandon Johnson scored 11 points and Chris Lewis added 10 for San Diego, which finished the regular season with its worst conference record since going 1-13 in 2003-04.
Lorne Jackson scored 15 points to lead Pepperdine (7-23, 3-11), which has lost its last four games by an average of nearly 21 points.
The loss clinched the eighth and last seed in the upcoming WCC Tournament for the Waves. If Pepperdine wins its first game, the Waves would face No. 18 Gonzaga in the semifinals.
Scorching Second Half Sends Seniors Out With Victory Roberto Mafra, Brandon Johnson, and Chris Lewis help Toreros claim 65-48 win over Pepperdine
Feb. 27, 2010
San Diego, Calif.- Seniors Brandon Johnson, Chris Lewis, and Roberto Mafra each scored in double digits on Saturday evening, guiding the University of San Diego men's basketball team to a 65-48 victory over Pepperdine University in the regular season finale at the Jenny Craig Pavilion.
USD (10-20, 3-11) snapped its season-long six-game losing streak by shooting 61.9% from the field in the second half, including 6-of-10 from three-point range. The Toreros' shooting percentage in the second half at one point climbed as high as 76.9%, helping San Diego outscore the Waves (7-23, 3-11) 37-23.
The trio of senior Toreros combined to score 34 points, with Mafra leading all Toreros with 13 points and seven rebounds to go along with his two blocks. Johnson added 11 points, six assists, three rebounds, and three steals while Lewis contributed 10 points and five rebounds.
The Toreros, nursing a 28-25 lead coming out of halftime, opened up the second half drilling 10 of their first 12 shots, including 5-of-6 from beyond the arc, to extend their advantage to 54-37 with 8:45 to go in the game. Lewis sparked the almost ten-minute stretch of fine shooting by hitting consecutive three-pointers from the top of the key two and a half minutes into the final period.
After USD took a 41-33 lead when Mafra hit a jumper at the 13:47 mark, Devin Ginty provided back-to-back threes almost two minutes later to give the Toreros their first double-digit lead. Ginty's triples capped a 19-5 run for San Diego.
The Toreros maintained control of the score for the majority of the first half, jumping out to as much as a seven-point lead. Freshman forward Ken Rancifer hit back-to-back threes and Mafra dunked on a breakaway opportunity to provide the Toreros with the 13-6 lead with 14:20 standing on the clock in the first half.
After a Matt Dorr one-handed jumper to give USD a 21-14 advantage with 7:52 left, the Waves went on to drain the lead, tying it up at 21 when Taylor Darby of Pepperdine hit a jumper almost two minutes later. The Waves took their final lead, 25-24, with 2:58 remaining in the opening half before Mafra responded for USD with a jumper to put the Toreros ahead once again 26-25.
With the regular season in the books, the Toreros will head to Las Vegas where they will take part in the WCC Championships. Tournament-play starts on Friday, March 5th at the Orleans Arena. USD earned the #6 seed and will face #7 Santa Clara in Friday's last game of the evening (30 minutes after completion of #5 USF-#8 Pepperdine game that starts at 6 pm).
Five Hoops Players Named WCC All-AcademicCourtesy: Pepperdine Sports Information
WCC All-Academic Press Release
MALIBU, Calif. - Five members of Pepperdine's men's and women's basketball teams have earned West Coast Conference All-Academic honors, with four of them being named to the first team, the league office announced today.
On the women's side, senior center Miranda Ayim was chosen to the first team for the third consecutive year, becoming the first Pepperdine women's player to earn the award three times. Sophomore center Alex Jarrell earned honorable mention notice.
For the men, junior forward Gus Clardy made the first team for the second straight year, while sophomore forward Taylor Darby and sophomore center Corbin Moore were picked to the first team in their first year of eligibility.
It's just the second time that the Pepperdine men have placed three players on the All-Academic team, and the last time it happened was 1993 (Tom Asbury was the head coach then as well).
To qualify for WCC All-Academic honors, a student-athlete must earn at least a 3.20 cumulative grade-point average, be at least a sophomore and be a significant contributor to the team.
Ayim (London, Ontario, Canada/Saunders Secondary), a public relations major, is Pepperdine's leading scorer (15.4), rebounder (6.8) and shot blocker (2.5) for the second straight season. In addition to being an All-WCC first team selection as a sophomore and junior, she is a two-time CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District honoree, a preseason candidate for the Lowe's Senior CLASS award, an Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar and Pepperdine's Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2008-09.
Jarrell (Shelbyville, Tenn./Shelbyville Central HS), a biology major, is averaging 2.6 points and 2.0 rebounds as Pepperdine's first post player off the bench. She has started five of 25 games.
Clardy (Nacogdoches, Texas/Nacogdoches HS), an economics major, had made eight starts in 19 games when he suffered a foot injury on Jan. 28 and has not played since. He was averaging 1.7 points and 1.7 rebounds.
Darby (San Marcos, Calif./Mission Hills HS), a business administration major, is Pepperdine's leading rebounder at 5.9 per game. He's also averaging 6.0 points in 24.1 minutes as a starting forward. He's appeared in all 28 games and has started 22.
Moore (Cypress, Calif./Los Alamitos HS), an economics major, has also appeared in all 28 games and has made nine starts while averaging 2.9 points and 3.3 rebounds in 15.7 minutes.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Former area standout Bell working on game at PepperdineBy Vincent Bonsignore, Staff Writer
Posted: 02/23/2010 11:16:22 PM PST
He still has the shoes he wore the day he first dunked a basketball.
Keion Bell was in the seventh grade at the time, and to this day the Pepperdine standout can explain that dunk with the type of meticulousness only other true dunkers can fully appreciate.
Those of us who live on the ground can't quite comprehend, but Bell, now a sophomore guard for the Waves, has been playing over the rim for as long as he can remember, so he's pretty much an expert on the subject.
That explains why he's now one of the sweetest, purest, most devastating dunkers in all of college basketball, the type of player who routinely leaves people shaking their heads in disbelief as if to say, "Did I just see that?"
"Let me tell you something," Pepperdine coach Tom Asbury said. "I was in the (Southeastern Conference) and Big 12 for a dozen years, so I saw incredible athletes every single day, but to this day, almost every day, Keion does something that makes me just sit there and say, `That was pretty incredible."'
Like the time he dunked over five people (more on that later).
Bell's days of soaring over the rim began in a travel-ball game when he was 13 years old, and his backcourt mate was Oscar Bellfield, now the point guard at UNLV.
Bellfield blocked a shot, then gathered the ball and threw a perfect outlet pass to Bell at midcourt.
"At this point, I really had no idea I could actually dunk the ball," Bell said.
It must have been the full head of steam Bell got by dribbling the ball from midcourt to the basket, or the fact that some poor opponent decided he was going to challenge the shot. In any case, Bell had all the motivation and stimulation he needed to rise higher than he'd ever gone before.
"It was crazy, actually, but I just kept going up and up, and I ending up dunking the ball over the other guy," Bell said. "So yeah, my first dunk was actually over someone. That was pretty cool."
The shoes he wore remain in a closet back home.
"I can't fit in 'em; they're about a size 6, probably," Bell said, "but I still have them."
For some people, a dunk in the seventh grade is a pinnacle. For Bell it was a starting point. He's been dunking on people ever since - in addition to becoming one of the best young guards on the West Coast - and the highlight reel he's assembled has helped make him an Internet sensation.
For proof, just go to You Tube.com and type in his name. There are two full pages of entries chronicling Bell's dunking ability, including the time he won the dunk contest at Kobe Bryant's summer camp last year at Loyola Marymount.
On that one, Bell shows off all his signature dunks to easily win the competition, and when watching, it's hard to tell what's more entertaining, Bell's dunks or Bryant's reactions to them.
Amazingly, the Kobe clip is only the second-best entry, because nothing beats the time Bell dunked over five people at Pepperdine's Midnight Madness to kick off the season.
The clip garnered worldwide interest from almost the day it was posted, reaching a million views the first week.
"I never, ever expected anything like a million views," Bell said. "I figured it would be pretty big around here, this area, but a million views? Come on, now. That's just crazy."
Bell actually got talked into doing it, having teased Pepperdine fans the year before by dunking over three people, and was challenged to try to outdo himself.
"So as this year's Midnight Madness started getting closer and closer, more and more students were coming up to me on campus asking, `What are you going to do to top it, Keion? Do you have anything special planned?'
"I was like, `Whoa, people are actually interested in this. They're expecting something big."'
And big is what he delivered.
Bell decided to increase the number of people from three to five, pulling fans from the stands and lining them up one after the other in front of the basket.
"It's not something you can, like, practice," Bell said. "It's one of those things you just do. So that's what I did. I just went for it."
Bell easily cleared the five fans and completed the dunk, sending the Pepperdine crowd into a frenzy. Within a day or so it was all over the Internet, with Yahoo.com profiling it on its front page and ESPN's Sports Nation asking if it was the best dunk ever.
Bell watched it all unfold in amazement.
"It blew up to a level I never really expected," Bell said.
To Bell's credit, he refuses to let his ability to dunk define him.
Make no mistake, he has fun with all the Internet celebrity, but he's much more interested in developing into a well-rounded player.
"It's important that I do things to separate myself, because I don't want to be labeled as just an athlete," he said. "There are a ton of athletes out there. The thing that separates the players from the athletes is being able to do all the other things. My goal is to be a complete player every single night."
Bell is clearly a work in progress in that regard. He's averaging 19 points per game and is clearly the top player on a young, struggling Waves team. In the process, he has emerged as one of the best players in the West Coast Conference in just his second year.
But there are flaws in his game.
At Serra and Pasadena high schools, Bell rarely had to play point guard, but at 6-foot-3 he definitely has to handle the ball more in college. That will only increase as he moves on to the professional ranks, and at this point he needs more refining.
"He turns the ball over too much, overhandles it," Asbury said. "He tries to make the most difficult pass imaginable. It's like gymnastics; he wants them to get graded, get a score on it, like a 9.5 for the degree of difficulty. "Don't get me wrong; it's certainly not an unselfishness on his part, he just wants to try to make tough passes."
Asbury and the Pepperdine coaches are trying to get Bell to settle down with the ball in his hands, make easier passes. At the same time, they understand part of what makes him great is his fearlessness, so they don't want to push too hard and potentially take away some of his confidence.
"He walks a tight rope; he's one of those guys who lives on the edge," Asbury said. "And you have to live with the fact that one night he'll have two turnovers, and the next night he might have 10 turnovers.
"That's just how he is. He's gotten better. But again he's a Mississippi riverboat gambler, the way he plays. He's a gambler."
"Obviously, I need to cut down on my turnovers," he said. "That is what I focus on when I'm training, especially out of season. I want to be a better ball handler. I want to be more effective as a pull-up shooter. I'm getting there, it's coming."
In the meantime, he doesn't mind being an entertainer, in addition to growing as a player. He already has something in store for next year's Midnight Madness.
"Just in watching the clip, I can see I have more room," Bell said. "I might have to add some more people. We'll see."
If we're on the Internet, we probably will, too.