Bobby Lewis, NewsOn6.com
TULSA, Oklahoma -- Oral Roberts averaged 3,372 fans per game last season. By comparison, that figure is roughly ten times larger than the population of star forward Damen Bell-Holter's home town.
Bell-Holter grew up in Hydaburg, Alaska, a town that's roughly an hour flight away from Seattle. Hydaburg is home to a basketball community that's growing, and Bell-Holter is a major part of that growth.
The 6-foot-10 forward returned to Tulsa after hosting basketball camps in Hydaburg and nearby Ketchikan and Craig. He even spent time in Canada this month trying to boost his sport's popularity in those regions.
"I'm trying to turn it into an every year thing," he said Friday at the Mabee Center. "I did it last summer. When I was a kid, we didn't have that. We didn't have people coming back and doing those types of things."
Bell-Holter is a budding star back in Alaska. He's one of just three active men's Division-I basketball players from the union's most northern territory. His home town is home to just 350 people. It's the type of place where everyone knows your name.
That intimacy makes what he's doing on the court even more important.
"I'm from there. I grew up there. I can relate to where they come from," he said. "I know how tough it is to get out of there and how tough it is to make it out of there."
Bell-Holter is often the subject of the Alaska Sports Blog, a site that's dedicated to updating Alaskans on how their top athletes are performing around the world. Bell-Holter landed at ORU after being recruited by schools much closer to home, like the University of Washington.
Now that he's established as a collegiate athlete, he takes his role very seriously.
"If my story can make a difference in somebody else's life, than I'm all for it," he said.
Bell-Holter had success as the starting forward a year ago. As a sophomore he averaged 13.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. The Golden Eagles finished 2010 with a 19-16 overall record.