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November 12, 2012

Former MLBer's son commits to Ole Miss

People told Brantley Bell he'd know it when it was right.

It took a while to occur, and Bell is quite glad he waited.

Bell, a 2013 shortstop from Phoenix (Mountain Pointe), Ariz., visited Ole Miss over the weekend and knew quickly it's where he wants his college home. He spent a day to think about it before calling Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco with the news.

"I went down there and just fell in love with the place," Bell said. "I talked to my parents about it, and I finally had that feeling. I pretty much knew the whole time I was there it was right. It was everything."

Bell (6-foot-2, 175 pounds) is the son of former Major Leaguer Jay Bell, who played with the Indians, Pirates, Royals, Diamondbacks and Mets over 18 seasons. He scored the series-winning run in the 2001 World Series and also won a Gold Glove Award in 1993. Bell is currently the Pirates' hitting coach.

His mom, Laura, made the trip with Bell, and he used Skype to tell his dad, who is currently in Taiwan coaching the New Zealand National Team, the news. He'll sign with the Rebels on Wednesday.

"Coach Bianco really reminds me of my dad," Bell said. "They share a lot of the same philosophies, and I really connected with him. We talked for about an hour and a half. They showed me videos of the atmosphere at games, and it was great. Those beer showers (after home runs) are awesome."

Most 2013 prospects have been committed for months, especially those ranked like Bell (202 nationally), but he couldn't find the right fit. Bell almost committed to Arkansas earlier this year but backed away. He visited many schools unofficially -- including Georgia and Alabama -- before deciding on a final group of Ole Miss, Purdue and San Diego.

Distance isn't a factor. Instead it's about the resources available to fulfill his plan. Bell wants to develop his play on the field and also complete a rigorous academic schedule in order to graduate in three years. Ole Miss recruiting coordinator Carl Lafferty contacted Bell's summer coach, Micah Franklin, who operates the Dbacks Elite Scout Team. Bell liked Lafferty from the beginning

"I've been through the recruiting process for a while, and it had gotten somewhat stressful," Bell said. "There was Arkansas, and then I liked San Francisco and a bunch of West Coast schools, but the whole family is happy with this one.

"I know this is where I want to be. It's the academics and making sure things are there as far as credits. It's the baseball, of course, too."

Bell, who runs a 6.7-second 60-yard dash and Perfect Game rates a 9.5 on a 1-to-10 scale, will likely be selected in the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft in June. He already has an idea of what it will take for him to bypass college.

"With the Draft, it's more about the opportunity," Bell said. "If it's the first or second round I'll sign. If not, I'm set on college. I've seen those guys get in there and teams are quick to kick them out if they aren't a high pick. I think I can develop my game in college for three years and be ready."


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