Former West High standout Dondre Alexander was in his comfort zone Sunday.
He was in that one place where he feels he has nothing to prove and where he feels the most secure: the basketball court.
The 6-foot-4 Alexander is playing in the Prime Time League this summer in preparation for the next chapter in his life as a member of the men’s basketball team at State Fair Community College in Missouri.
“It feels good to be back out here with referees and playing against good competition,” Alexander said. “I just like that it’s getting me ready for the next level and getting me used to playing against better competition around the whole floor. So it’s a lot of fun, and I’m enjoying it.”
Playing in the PTL is just a small step in Alexander’s road to redemption.
He’s not out to prove anything in the PTL because Alexander said he has nothing to prove as a basketball player.
“Not at all,” Alexander said. “I’ve shown what I can do already.”
Alexander is moving on with his life and away from the ugliness from this past high school basketball season, which for Alexander ended with him being dismissed from the West High team in mid-February for disciplinary reasons.
“I definitely can’t wait to get back out on the floor and show everybody what I can do,” Alexander 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.”
Alexander showed many of the same skills and athleticism Sunday in the PTL that he showed on a regular basis in high school. He led his PTL team to a 103-83 victory by scoring 25 points and grabbing eight rebounds. He also made 5-of-8 3-point baskets while being matched against Iowa all-Big Ten guard Devyn Marble for much of the game.
“I just feel like I’m a Division I player, too, so I can play with anybody,” Alexander said. “I think that helps me with my confidence and making shots out there, just knowing that I can make shots.”
Alexander was headed to a Division I school after signing a letter of intent with Southern Mississippi this past November. But those plans have since been derailed and now he hopes to get back on track in junior college.
“First of all, my goal is to go down there and get an education,” Alexander said. “They told me they want me to come down there and make plays. We’ll see what happens.”
PTL founder and commissioner Randy Larson coaches Alexander’s team in the PTL. Larson also is the head boys basketball coach at Regina, so he’s familiar with Alexander’s problems off the court and his potential on it.
“I think he’s on a mission to prove that he can play the right way,” Larson said of Alexander, who as a junior led West to the Class 4A state title and was named the tournament’s most outstanding player. “I’ve just been delighted with him. He’s made the right play almost every time down the court. He’s given 110 percent like you knew he would. And I think he’s a high Division I basketball player and I’ve always felt that.”
Alexander plays on the same PTL team with Iowa point guard Anthony Clemmons and with Iowa forward Jarrod Uthoff.
Clemmons knew about Alexander’s game after watching him play on tape. Clemmons also had heard about Alexander’s game during trips to his barber in Iowa City.
“He told me he was the real deal around Iowa City,” Clemmons said of his barber’s description of Alexander. “He’s really good.”
Alexander said he enjoys playing alongside Clemmons because their styles complement each other.
“He knows when to take the right shot and make the right play,” Alexander said of Clemmons. “So I just try to watch him because he’s been here for a year and I’m just trying to learn.”
Alexander doesn’t speak about his high school career with bitterness anymore. He said it was tough watching his former team win a second consecutive Class 4A title in March, but he stuck with them as a fan until the end.
“I wanted to be back out there with them on the floor,” Alexander said. “But I still supported them.”
Alexander also still speaks fondly of West coach Steve Bergman. He credits Bergman for teaching him to play the game the right way, especially on defense.
“Bergie was actually a good coach,” Alexander said. “He taught me a lot. I learned a lot from him as far as toughness and always playing hard defense and not giving up one possession. So I took a lot from him.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball