Drew League Stories: Dunk Phenom Kwame Alexander
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Between Biggie and Kwame Brown, the name Kwame is synonymous with negative things. 24 year old Kwame Alexander is trying to change that with his on the court play and positive off the court mentality.
If you are in LA or follow Ballislife then you should be familiar with Kwame’s above the rim game. For the past couple of years we have been following him as he wins dunk contests, postersizes defenders with the Court Kingz, dominates at the Drew League or just does something ridiculous like touch 12’6 at a VBL event.
There’s a good recent article about Kwame and his basketball journey in the LA Times. Here’s an excerpt from it.
Growing up in Moreno Valley, he wasn’t very tall and was very angry. The second oldest of four siblings, he was the only son in a family that was divided after his parents divorced when he was 15. The split left Alexander, his three sisters, mother and grandmother homeless for a year, he says.
The family bounced from couch to couch and friend to friend for a while and Alexander became bitter. His anger was expressed at school, where he talked back to teachers and was constantly in trouble — when he actually bothered to show up for class.
Basketball had been in his life since he was 3, but he was forced away from the sport his first two years at Moreno Valley Rancho Verde High because he was academically ineligible.
The summer before his junior year in high school, he realized the pent-up aggression needed to be channeled in some kind of positive way.
“That’s when I really got that killer basketball mentality and when good stuff started to happen to me,” he says.
His change in attitude coincided with a growth spurt that shot him up six inches, to 6 feet 4. He recalls that when he tried to dunk for the first time he got his entire hand and part of his arm above the rim.
But while Alexander managed to salvage his basketball career, his poor grades haunted him. He spent two years at community colleges before landing at Cal State San Bernardino.
He never shortchanged basketball, though. San Bernardino had workouts at 6 a.m. that the coaches called “The Breakfast Club,” meant for players who needed extra work. Alexander attended the sessions for the guards … and the wings … and the big men.
Unrefined at first, Alexander became a Division II All-American his senior year, when he averaged 17 points, nine rebounds and close to two steals.
“When we got him, he was a big-time athlete that couldn’t really dribble or even make a move with his back to the basket,” says Robert Tossetti, a San Bernardino assistant. “Now, I think that guy is a really good, true basketball player. He understands the game better and how to play the game now, as opposed to just being an athlete.”
There was never debate that Alexander was a special athlete. His debut in “SportsCenter” highlights came when he was playing for San Bernardino and leaped over a defender who was braced to take a charge. That was the No. 2 “Play of the Week.”
That was also our first video of Kwame.