NORTH LIBERTY — Dondre Alexander sized up an All-Big Ten third-teamer and drove right at him.
A hesitation dribble and a spin move got Alexander past the NIT All-Tournament Team member and into the lane, where he double-clutched and made a tough layup.
Alexander found himself matched up several times in last night’s Prime Time League game against Iowa guard Devyn Marble. The former Iowa City West player — who quit the team in the middle of his senior season — scored 25 points on 10-for-17 shooting. He also helped force Marble into an 11-for-28 night from the field. Alexander led his team, which also features Hawkeyes Jarrod Uthoff and Anthony Clemmons, in scoring. They won the game, 103-83.
Alexander will play next season at State Fair Community College in Sedalia, Mo. But he’s using the Prime Time League to prove he can play at a higher level than junior college.
“I feel like I’m a D-1 player, too,” he said. “So I can play with anybody. That helps me to go out there with confidence, going out and making shots.”
Alexander had originally committed to Southern Mississippi, but academic concerns meant he wouldn’t have been able to practice and travel with the team, and would have had to pay for the first year on his own. His goal is to move up to Division-I after two JUCO seasons.
“Go down there, get an education, get in the weight room, get better as a basketball player, and win games,” he said. “They told me they want me to go down there and make plays.”
Clemmons heard about Alexander from his Iowa City barber, and watched a highlight video. He’s been impressed by what he’s seen first-hand, but had a few words of advice.
“He’s really good,” Clemmons said. “He’s got to be a little more under control and more of a team player sometimes. But when he’s going, he’s going.”
He was “going” last night, hitting back-to-back three pointers on the fast break, and getting to the basket almost whenever he wanted. He also had two steals and three assists.
“People say, ‘Look how athletic he is,’ but I say look at how skilled he is,” said Randy Larson, the PTL commissioner and coach of Alexander’s team. “Look how he passes, dribbles, and shoots. That’s not just a D-1 player, that’s a high D-1 player.”
Larson used to be an assistant coach at West High, so he had heard about some of Alexander’s struggles at the school — he was suspended twice last season before finally walking away in February. But he drafted the guard anyway.
“I figured there was another side of it,” Larson said. “Sometimes guys respond to when you treat them positively. I was perfectly comfortable taking him, and I couldn’t want anything more from him.”
Alexander will play the entire PTL schedule and then head to school in late August. In the meantime, he’ll try to keep pouring in points against some of the Hawkeyes’ best players and re-establish himself as a local basketball force.
“I definitely can’t wait to get back out on the floor and show everybody what I can do,” he said. “I missed the last part of the season, and that hurt me a lot. But I’m over it, and I’m just looking forward to playing at the next level.”