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Oregon’s Jordan Bell had just finished the Suns’ three-minute post-workout sprint and, with hands on knees, trying to catch his breath, he looked up at head trainer Aaron Nelson and asked how many laps he had run.

“Twenty-eight,” Nelson said.

Bell shook his head slightly. Noticing the exchange, a reporter asked Bell a few minutes later if he was disappointed he didn’t break the record of 29. No, Bell replied. He just wanted to beat former Ducks’ teammate Dillon Brooks, who had run 28 ½ laps earlier in the week.

Bragging rights and all.

Bell figured he’d hear from Brooks one way or another when his number got out. But his retort would be swift and powerful.

“He’s never beat me in one-on-one,” Bell said smiling. “He can have the extra half-lap.”

Bell, one of six players who worked out for the Suns Friday, has never really been a numbers guy. His game is about hustle and blocked shots, rebounding and defense and doing whatever it takes to help his team win. Ask for an NBA comparison and he says Golden State’s Draymond Green.

“Teams have seen me play 40 games in college,” Bell said. “They know what kind of player I am. I’m not looking to score most of the time.”

That attitude – along with freakish athletic ability – is why the 6-foot-9 Bell is a viable candidate for the Suns with the first of their two second-round picks (No. 32 overall). The Suns have scorers. But they ranked last in opponents’ points allowed last year (113.3) and 26th in opponents’ field-goal percentage (46.9)

Bell can defend shooting guards to power forwards, he could play center in a smaller lineup and he’s a ferocious rebounder; he became the first player since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1983-84 to have at least 12 rebounds in five straight NCAA Tournament games.

“I very much take pride in my defense,” Bell said. “That’s what I hang my hat on every time I step on the floor. I think my ability to guard perimeter players, switch on screens and keep people in front of me is definitely something that will help me in the long run and keep me in the league for a long time.”

There was some question about how Bell’s athleticism and shot-blocking ability – he ranked 25th in Division I last year with 2.1 blocks per game and had eight blocks in an NCAA Tournament win over Kansas – would translate to the NBA. But Suns Assistant General Manager Pat Connelly said those questions were answered at the May draft combine in Chicago.

“He just kept blocking shots, which obviously drew the eye a little bit,” Connelly said. “Look at him. He’s not 6-11 but it doesn’t matter. He battles, he’s physical and he has the timing and the knack. You can’t just be athletic and rebound. You have to have the commitment to get the ball and the ability to read where the ball is going.”

For Bell, it’s simple: He knows he’ll probably never be a big-time scorer – he averaged 10.9 points per game last year for Oregon – so his will to do the dirty work is what has and will define him.

“I think it’s 90 percent effort honestly,” he said. “You just have to want to do it. A lot of people have the ability. They just don’t want to.”

Son of Sun

Among the five other players who worked out: Former Phoenix Brophy Prep star Tim Kempton Jr., a Lehigh product and son of Suns radio color analyst Tim Kempton. Also working out: French guard Mathias Lessort, Miami guard Davon Reed, New Mexico forward Tim Williams and Syracuse guard Andrew White III.

White could find a place in the league thanks to his 3-point shooting; he set a Syracuse record with 112 3-pointers last year and shot 40.3 percent from beyond the arc.

“That’s a skill-set I think I can bring to a team,” he said.

Reach Bordow at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/sBordow. He can be reached at 602-448-8716

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