ATLANTA – Georgia Tech senior D’Andre Bell will miss the 2008-09 season due to a congenital condition known as spinal stenosis, head coach Paul Hewitt announced Wednesday.
The 6-6 guard from Los Angeles, Calif., discovered the condition after he hit his head on a teammate’s leg diving for a loose ball during a conditioning workout on Oct. 10, and felt numbness in his extremities. Tuesday, Bell was examined by Dr. John Heller, a world-renowned spine surgeon at the Emory Orthopedic and Spine Center, and was told at that time he would not be able to continue to play basketball.
The stenosis is located in the cervical portion of Bell’s spine. Spinal stenosis is a condition in which the spinal canal narrows and compresses the spinal cord. Bell, who played in all 32 games last year and earned a reputation as a stout defender for the Yellow Jackets, will need surgery to correct the problem. The timetable for that has yet to be determined.
“It hurts not to be able to play,” said Bell, who would have been the team’s captain this season. “But I know God has a plan for me, and I need to do what is best for my future. My focus now will be on making sure I do what I need to do academically to finish up in the spring. I have to have the surgery whether I want to play again or not, so I probably will do that during winter break.”
Dr. John Xerogeanes, Georgia Tech’s team orthopedist, said, “It’s necessary for his quality of life, whether he plays basketball again or not, to have the surgery.”
A Management major, Bell is on track to graduate in four years in May. He averaged 6.6 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game last year, and has played in 88 games in three seasons for the Yellow Jackets.
Hewitt said, “We’re very disappointed for D’Andre. At the same time, however, he was fortunate to have caught this before something catastrophic happened on the court.”