1) Tell TGR about yourself?
I am currently a sophomore at Columbia University. I am from Short Hills, New Jersey where I attended Millburn High school for four years and then went to prep school at Peddie for one year because I felt that I needed another year to improve my strength and get ready for college life. I am a very hard-working person who has high aspirations of being successful both on and off the court. Lastly, I am very close with my family, I am the second oldest of 4 siblings, whether it is my parents, sister and brothers, or cousins and I feed off of their support to drive myself to work hard. Going to school in New York City, I am very fortunate to be surrounded by my family.
2) When did you know you were ready for the NCAAs?
When I began high school, I dreamed of playing basketball on television and for a Division I program. I continued to work hard and after attending several AAU tournaments, I gained confidence, especially playing with and against many high-level players. I attended a tournament in Indiana going into my senior year where we played at Assembly Hall against Indiana Elite. I played against Cody Zeller and Marshall Plumlee and scored 15 points. After that game I felt that I belonged there and was beginning to prove myself.
3) What’s it like having such a rigorous school schedule (Ivy League) and basketball schedule? Is it hard to balance?
Attending an Ivy League school is tough because no students, in particular athletes, receive special treatment from professors. Everyone is equal so I have to work as hard as any other student to receive good grades. Yet, basketball is extremely demanding and takes up a lot of my time. It is tough at first to manage both but Columbia teaches us about time management. I chose this school because I wanted to be challenged and I think that both our team and program are continuing to improve.
4) 8-6 record going into league play. Do the Lions have a shot at going to the tournament this year?
I definitely feel that the Lions have a shot at going into the tournament this year. We lost a few close games early on but I feel we have been improving and have been working diligently. We have a great mix of veterans and freshman that are talented and understand the magnitude of what it will take to win the Ivy League. We feel very confident going into every game and expect to win the Ivy League this year and prove where we are as a program.
5) You are only a sophomore and already third in team scoring, second in assists and rebounds. Where do you see yourself in regards to the team and its future?
I feel as if I am an essential part of this team that can help us be more versatile offensively and defensively. I have been trying to play within myself and do what this team needs me to do to succeed. As long as I am getting my teammates involved, then I will find opportunities to score and be a threat against opposing teams. Going forward, I am looking to take a major jump in my overall game and be a player who this team counts on to lead us to wins night in and night out. I want to become one of the leaders of this team and a role model for our younger players to strive to be great.
6) Who is the best player you have ever played against? What was that like?
The best player I ever played against was Kyrie Irving. I actually played with him for four years in AAU and we became very close, but I was able to go up against him in practice and it was a great test every time to measure where I stood as a player going against a future professional.
7) You plan on playing in the Maccabi games this coming summer. Has Israel played a large role in your life? Are you excited for the opportunity?
I am very excited to play for a second time in Israel. My first experience, four years ago was eye-opening. I am honored to represent my country in the Maccabi games and look forward to spending time in Israel because it is a great and historic country. This is actually going to be my fourth visit to Israel. I was there twice as a child when my father played basketball in the Maccabiah games. I have always loved visiting Israel and I am very comfortable with the people and the culture there. It is somewhere I would consider playing professionally at some point in my career after college.
8) What are your future goals?
I set very high goals for myself that I feel are attainable and can be achieved with hard work. I hope to play professionally in the NBA or overseas after I graduate. I want to work to reach my full potential and see how successful I can become playing basketball for a number of years to come. After basketball, I hope to become even more successful working in business.
9) Knowing the Upper West Side well would you say you eat more Koronets Pizza, Crumbs Cupcakes, or at Toms Restaurant?
That’s a tough question. Tom’s is great for breakfast or any time of the day and Koronets is great for a late night slice of pizza, but those who know me well, know that I love cupcakes and so I may have to go with Crumbs on this one.
Thank you to Alex for his time. He has lots of potential and we are rooting for him.
And Let Us Say…Amen.
– Jeremy Fine