The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

June 6, 2009

HERTZEL COLUMN: Alexander learns from rough rookie year with Bucks

MORGANTOWN — Joe Alexander could run and he could jump, yet when he went from West Virginia University to the Milwaukee Bucks as their first round selection in last year’s NBA draft he had to learn to walk again.

He quickly learned that about the only thing that’s the same in the pro game and the college game is that the ball is round.

“It’s a bigger step to go from college to the NBA than it is to go from high school to college,” Alexander admitted as he returned to town to take part in Bob Huggins’ second annual Fantasy Camp.

Those who remember Joe Alexander, the freshman under John Beilein, remember that he was not what you’d call an instant success. He played only 10 games and his high game was just five points scored against Washington & Jefferson. As athletic as he was, he was behind because of a childhood in China and Taiwan where his basketball progress was retarded by a lack of instruction and competition.

He rode his amazing athletic talent through Lingapore High School in Mt. Airy, Md., good enough to have his No. 20 uniform retired this year, and into WVU.

But once here he had trouble adjusting to Beilein’s restrictive system and did not blossom until his junior season under Huggins, who coerced the best out of Alexander and guided him into position to become an instant millionaire … a millionaire who says he still hasn’t spent any money and continues to drive the same car he drove in college.

Well, Alexander may have become a professional by signing a contract but he quickly found out that there is more to professional basketball than just playing for an NBA team.

“The biggest difference is that when you are a professional you take ownership of yourself and your career. It all involves exceeding expectations,” Alexander said.

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Bob Herzel
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