HAMPTON — It was the first day of conditioning drills, and everyone was intrigued by this long and lean transfer from somewhere in Michigan. He looked like a player, but did he have what it took?
Kecoughtan coach Ivan Thomas takes it from here:
"We get after it in the summer, and he wasn't used to it," Thomas said. "So he comes over to me with that deep, baritone voice and says, 'Coach, I feel a little …' and he threw up in the trash can. I asked him, 'Have you been working out?' And he said, 'I thought I was, but apparently not.'
"Then, when it was free time, he started shooting and he made 15 in a row. He didn't miss! And I said, 'This kid can really shoot the ball.' And it was on from there."
Maybe not immediately. With a year of reflection, Greg Alexander acknowledges his junior season at Kecoughtan was mostly a learning process. He averaged 6.4 points a game coming off the bench. But mostly, he adapted to better competition and a more demanding coach.
This season, with everything put together, Alexander has emerged. A 6-foot-4 guard, he's the Warriors' second-leading scorer at 15.4 points a game and has 69 3-pointers entering Thursday night's Group AAA quarterfinal against Henrico.
And he's all signed with East Carolina. Would any of this have happened had he stayed in Muskegon, Mich.?
"Probably not," Alexander said. "It doesn't happen that way there."
When you watch Alexander shoot a 3, two things stand out: How high he gets, and how little the ball spins. The former comes from watching video after video of his favorite player, Kobe Bryant. But he has no idea why his shot sometimes looks like a Tim Wakefield knuckleball.
Alexander is one of the top 3-point shooters in the region, but he's not just a shooter. Thomas believes he's more effective with his mid-range game. The coach remembers only one defender, 6-5 Chris Orlina of Woodside, blocking an Alexander jumper this season.
"With the height he gets on his jump, it makes his mid-range game so pure," Thomas said. "I don't want him to go away from his 3-pointer, but I wish he'd use the mid-range as another weapon. He just has a deadly mid-range game.
"He's also humble and he fit in real well on this team. He's an interesting kid. He has a lot of talents and gifts."
Like art. Ever since he was 6, Alexander has enjoyed drawing. It started with pencil sketches. Now, he works with pastels, and he's become so talented that people pay him to draw a portraits of themselves, a friend or their favorite celebrity.
"My mom could draw a little bit, and she got me started," he said. "It just took off from there. I never want to let go of it. Basketball is what I love the most, but I love to draw and I want to keep going with my art."
Alexander has posted 10 "speed drawing" videos on YouTube. With time-lapse technology, he draws sketches of subjects ranging from Dwayne Wade and Kanye West to Marilyn Monroe and Erykah Badu.
In the videos, a seven-hour process is boiled down to seven minutes. In one, he merges his face with a friend from Michigan named Rachel. Give it a look and see if you don't catch yourself saying wow.
Thomas calls him "a genius," which brought a smile to Alexander's face.
"I'm a pretty simple guy, really," he said.
Well, maybe. Aside from his jump shot and artistic talent, Alexander also stands out because of his deep speaking voice. Imagine what James Earl Jones sounded like at 17. If Alexander is looking for extra cash, he'd be a natural for voice-over work.
"Even when I was younger, my voice was always a little heavy for my age," he said. "But a couple of years ago, I don't know what happened. Just overnight, it got so deep."
No wonder Alexander feels like "an old man at heart." He's also old school with his basketball and watches videos of Michael Jordan and other stars of yesteryear on YouTube. When a newspaper referred to Warriors' sixth man Lawrence Williams as a modern-day Vinnie "Microwave" Johnson, Alexander was one of the few in the locker room who got it.
Yet he's not an old man. In fact, he won't turn 18 until October, two months after he begins classes at ECU. And the way Thomas sees it, that a big plus.
"As he gets older, he'll see what his body can do," Thomas said. "His best basketball is ahead of him."
KECOUGHTAN (25-5) VS. HENRICO (27-2)
WHAT: Group AAA quarterfinals
WHEN: 8:30 p.m.
WHERE: Siegel Center, Richmond.
TICKETS: $10 (children 6 and under free when accompanied by an adult).
OUTLOOK: Not only did Monday's loss in the Eastern Region final send Kecoughtan packing, it led to a tough draw. Henrico (also nicknamed the Warriors) has won 17 straight games with a high-energy offense that averages 79.2 points a game. Keep in mind that's high school, where the games are 32 minutes. Henrico averages 65 field-goal attempts a game and shoots 47 percent. Four players are scoring in double figures, led by G Tim Jones (14.6 ppg) and C Marvin Smith Jr. (14.8 ppg, 10.2 rpg). This is largely the same team that lost to Hampton in last year's state semifinals. Kecoughtan's obvious task is to control the tempo and get Rodney Bullock (21.5 ppg) and Greg Alexander (15.4 ppg) involved. Alexander is coming off a 2-for-16 shooting night in Monday's loss to Great Bridge.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times