Starkville High's Bell developing as force


Ben Wait



STARKVILLE -- Markedric Bell doesn't have the basketball background others have. 


Bell didn't play organized basketball in junior high, but he decided to join the Starkville High School boys basketball team. Bell didn't play as a freshmen, but he practiced and received a chance to play as a sophomore. 


Since then, Bell has made a lot of progress and has continued to develop. Last week, Bell had one of his best week in leading Starkville to victories against West Lowndes and Callaway. In a 71-43 victory against West Lowndes on Tuesday, Bell had eight points and six rebounds. He followed that up with 16 points and 10 rebounds in a 78-53 victory against Callaway on Friday night in a Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 6A, Region 3 game.  


For his efforts, Bell is The Dispatch's Prep Player of the Week. 


"He's a big part of what we do," Carter said. "The athleticism he brings to the game, he can be a game-changer at times. In the last couple of games he kind of proved that. With his athleticism and his versatility, he can just kind of change the game." 


Starkville beat Murrah 60-59 Monday in the Rumble in the South at Mississippi College in Clinton to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Bell had six points on 3-of-8 shooting and had five rebounds. Teammate Blake Rogers earned MVP honors with 18 points and four rebounds. 


Carter said Bell's energy off the bench Friday and Monday were big reasons Starkville earned victories. 


"In the Callaway game he came in and scored immediately," Carter said. "He was scoring consistently. He was a bad matchup for them on that block. 


"(Monday's) game was different. He wasn't the big-time scorer like he was in the Callaway game, but he was a defender. He guarded their best player (Eric Thornton)." 


Bell said he has become comfortable in his role as a bench player. Although he wants to be a starter, he doesn't get down because he isn't. Instead, he pays attention every second while he's on the bench, hoping to gain an advantage. 


"It's better for me to see what's going on during the game so I'll know what to expect before I get out there," Bell said. "It helps me a lot being comfortable. 


"I just want to come off the bench, play with a lot of energy, and go to the boards. I also focus on my defense to help my team out." 


Although Bell didn't play organized basketball in junior high, he tried to play basketball every day by meeting up with friends and playing wherever he could. 


But once he joined the Yellow Jackets, he quickly learned he had a great teacher in Carter and began to see his game develop. 


"I've gotten a lot better with coach Carter working me out every day after school, him and the other coaches. I've just gotten better," Bell said. 


Starkville (15-2), which is ranked No. 3 in The Clarion-Ledger's Boys Super 10 poll, will play Friday at Madison Central in a region game. 


Carter felt Bell could have played at this level last season, but he knew it might take him time to gain experience. But after coaching Bell for two seasons, he had a feeling Bell was going to make a big jump. 


"He's come a long way," Carter said. "He looks to score. We used to have to tell him to shoot it, but he's got so much more confidence. It's like he's almost a totally different player than he was last year." 


Follow Dispatch sports writer Ben Wait on Twitter @bcwait


Ben Wait reports on Mississippi State University sports for The Dispatch.


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