By LARRY VAUGHT
Fans at the Marshall County Hoop Fest will get to see Kentucky signee Shair Alexander play Friday at 5:30 p.m. CST against Prolific Prep out of California (call 270-527-6714 to purchase tickets in advance).
Alexander and his Hamilton Heights (Chattanooga) teammates will play Thursday night in Memphis against Memphis East on ESPN2.
“That will be a heck of a stretch for us,” Hamilton Heights coach Zach Ferrell said. “We’ll be doing some sleeping on the bus. We’ve not been to Hoop Fest before but I know what a quality event it is.”
Hamilton Heights has two other Division I signees — Nick Alexander-Walker, who is ranked No. 29 in the ESPN top 100 and will play at Virginia Tech, and Therren Shelton-Szmidt, who will play at Middle Tennessee. The Hawks have seven players with Division I offers and a solid group of younger players.
“We push the ball. Not like Nolan Richardson did at Arkansas, but we play at a good pace,” Ferrell said. “I hope fans will see a hard working group of kids that they can see enjoys playing together.”
The 6-5 Alexander, a one-time Florida commit, is seen as a combo guard by many. Ferrell is not one.
“Point guard is his natural position. As a point guard, he’s everything you want,” Ferrell said. “He understands the game. His vision is fantastic. He loves to get his teammates involved. He has a 6-10 wingspan and has the potential to be a phenomenal defender.
“He can score it really well and he can find people when they are open. He handles the ball, shoots it well and he can be really fantastic coming off a ball screen.”
Ferrell says his outside shooting has improved and can still get better.
“He has gotten more confident in his shooting,” the coach said. “It’s not the best part of his game, but it is definitely a tool he can use.”
Ferrell said Alexander, who is from Toronto, is a much more confident player now and has also grown since arriving in Chattanooga as a junior.
“With every college freshman, there will be an adjustment period. But he does not get caught up in the limelight or spotlight he’ll be in at Kentucky. He’s very low key and down to earth. He will be able to thrive in that environment,” Ferrell said.