Sunday, June 29, 2008

Alexander likes challenges ahead

Half a world away, Joe Alexander decided he was going to play in the NBA. After all, his older brothers were good basketball players, so they’d probably be there, too.

Alexander was 10 years old, living in Beijing because of his father’s work and just a fifth-grader. His brothers’ pro dreams changed into business careers, but 11 years later, Alexander was the top pick of the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA draft, selected No. 8 overall on Thursday night.

“This has been a lifelong dream of mine. Well, obviously, I didn’t know much about life at the time,” he said Friday in his introduction in Milwaukee. “All I knew was my older brothers were really good at basketball and the highest level of ball was the NBA. And I figured they were going to be there so I wanted to be better than them. It was simple as that.”

That’s been Alexander’s biggest asset so far. He’s willing to work harder than anyone he’s faced. That’s what endeared him to West Virginia coach Bob Huggins despite the fact the two only spent one season together.

Huggins saw Alexander’s potential immediately and told the 6-foot-8 forward he would play in the NBA one day.

“He said that to me after our first individual workout. I was just throwing down a lot of dunks, not just by myself, but on my teammates and I think he saw that I was really passionate about the game, I wasn’t just going through the motions,” Alexander said. “I hope that’s what he saw.”