Thomas Bell return

North Texas coach Grant McCasland, right, and forward Thomas Bell (13) celebrate after Bell scored in overtime to help lead the Mean Green past Western Kentucky in the championship game of the Conference USA tournament at the Ford Center in Frisco. Bell is returning for another season at UNT.

North Texas senior forward Thomas Bell is returning for another season with the Mean Green.

Bell averaged 10.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game this year while playing a key role in UNT’s run to the Conference USA tournament title and a win over Purdue in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Bell scored 16 points in the Mean Green’s 78-69 win over the Boilermakers and connected on a 3 early in overtime that put UNT up for good.

UNT announced Bell’s decision with a video on the team’s Twitter account.

The return of the 6-foot-6 St. Louis native will bolster UNT after it lost two key players in the last few days. Senior point guard Javion Hamlet declared for the NBA draft following the season, while senior guard James Reese entered the transfer portal.

Hamlet led UNT with an average of 15.7 points per game and was named the MVP of the C-USA tournament. Reese was the Mean Green’s second-leading scorer at 10.9 points per game.

Senior forward Zachary Simmons has yet to announce his plans after averaging 10.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.

The NCAA granted players an additional season of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic that impacted the college basketball season. The decision opened up the possibility of seniors returning for an additional year.

UNT stumbled late in the year, dropping its final three games before the C-USA tournament. The Mean Green rebounded to win four games in four days to win the league title.

UNT extended its winning streak in the NCAA tournament, where the Mean Green were the No. 13 seed in the South Region. Purdue, the No. 4 seed, was a heavy favorite but couldn’t derail the Mean Green.

UNT lost to Villanova in the second round.

The Mean Green head into the offseason looking to build on the momentum their postseason run provided.

Shooting guard Mardrez McBride started throughout the season and is set to return, along with freshman guard Rubin Jones. McBride averaged 7.7 points per game. Jones added 6.2 points while coming off the bench before suffering a season-ending injury late in the year.

UNT has three highly regarded high school seniors set to arrive before next season in Matthew Stone, Aaron Scott and Chrisdon Morgan.

Arcadia transfer point guard Da’Kquan Davis is also a member of UNT’s recruiting class.

Bell will have a chance to step into a leadership role and guide that group of newcomers after electing to return for another season.

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

Recommended for you

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!