It's not every year that Alaska's Damen Bell-Holter gets to spend Thanksgiving with his family, but this year is special.
This year he is playing in the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout.
Bell-Holter, a 6-foot-9 senior center, is back in The Last Frontier with the Oral Roberts University men's basketball team, which tipped off Thanksgiving night with a 75-66 victory over Loyola Marymount. Bell-Holter scored 8 points and ripped down 13 rebounds in that contest. The win puts Bell-Holter in Friday's semifinal against TEXAS STATE or CHARLOTTE.
"I'm extremely excited and hope to get good support from my fellow Alaskans," he told me. "I'm looking forward to seeing friends and having the chance to play in front of Anchorage people because I never have got to in high school. So it's a great opportunity."
Originally from Hydaburg, Bell-Holter later transferred to Ketchikan High School where he became a two-time first-team all-state selection in 2007 and 2008.
He's probably the best Alaska player you've never seen play in person.
Now in college, Bell-Holter has emerged as one of the best big men to come out of the state, perhaps second to only Carlos Boozer, the NBA veteran now with the Chicago Bulls.
In his first 100 career games, the senior center has scored 868 points and grabbed 573 rebounds. He has 12 double-doubles, including an 11-point, 11-rebound performance in a win over Pacific earlier this season.
While in Anchorage he hopes there is time to show his teammates a good time off the court.
"We're hoping to go dog sledding and sight-see. I'll be hanging out with my family and friends, too," he said. "It's a great opportunity to play in the Shootout because it'll be on CBS Sports along with the fact that I'm gonna have a great fan base up there. I don't get to spend time with family on the holidays so this is going to be really cool."