Drexel’s 2019-20 season was filled with highs and lows. The highs included winning the Boardwalk Battle Tournament in December and starting 5-2 in conference play. the low was finishing the season 2-11 in its last 13 games.
The Dragons lost Sam Green, Kurk Lee, and Jarvis Doles after they decided to transfer. Drexel got a boost when it learned that Zach Walton would be approved for a sixth season after applying for a medical redshirt, and more help is on the way.
Drexel signed 6-6 forward Lamar Oden Jr. in the early signing period. Luke House announced his decision to transfer to Drexel last month. The Dragons now have one scholarship available after securing two signatures from guard Xavier Bell and forward Amari Williams.
“I think you want to bring guys in that have winning backgrounds,” coach Zach Spiker said. “Each of these guys have that.”
Xavier Bell’s high school coach, Jesse Hermann, described him as a winner. He was the best player on the team every season and started every game. Bell led Andover Central High to a state championship in his junior season.
“When your best player is your hardest worker, it makes it nice to coach a team,” Hermann said. “I think the fans at Drexel and the people in Philadelphia are going to get to watch a really special kid.”
Bell is capable of playing both guard positions. He averaged 24 points as a senior while playing point guard.
“In high school I had the ball in my hands more often than not, but in the summer league, I’ve played on a couple teams where I don’t have to be the one bringing up the ball,” Bell said. “Me growing up playing on and off the ball has been a key part of my success now.”
Bell will help Drexel in the backcourt by taking some pressure off of Camren Wynter. Wynter, Matey Juric and Coletrane Washington are penciled into the backcourt rotation, but Walton is expected to play more at forward, which leaves an opportunity for Bell.
“Xavier is an attacking guard who has a great feel for the game,” Spiker said. “He can attack the rim, score from three and also make the right pass when necessary. His approach to the game on defense reflects the attitude we want to have as a team defending."
Amari Williams is a player Drexel has tracked for several years. He was a teammate with Drexel freshman Mate Okros at Myerscough Basketball Academy in Engalnd. The 6-10 forward averaged 9.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and a block last season. He has also played with Great Britain at the under-16 and U18 levels.
“He has a very unique skill set,” said Neal Hopkins, Williams’ previous coach. “His ability to handle the ball at his size makes him really fun to watch. His development over the last two years has been really rapid.”
Williams is expected to back up James Butler in the frontcourt. His playmaking ability could allow him to see time early. His ability to pass the ball caught Drexel’s attention.