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Oliver’s jersey retired


During the reign of Mark Blevins as head coach of the Bearden High School boys’ basketball team, jersey No. 32 has been the number of greatness.

For the second time in less than two years, a former Bulldog once wearing No. 32 in Blevins’ program has had his number retired.

Joining former Bearden star Jared Karnes from the mid-1990s is superstar point guard Alex Oliver, who received the ultimate honor at BHS Monday night.


Oliver, a Class AAA All-state first-team honoree in 2002 who led BHS to the state tournament semifinals, had his No. 32 jersey retired during a ceremony between the Bearden girls’ and boys’ games against Jefferson County.

“That’s why he’s got his number retired, plus he’s just such a pleasure to coach, such a great leader and a very nice kid,” Blevins said. “The thing about Alex is that he just made everybody perfect because of his penetration.”

Speaking to the crowd that included Oliver’s parents, Jessie and Charles Oliver Sr., older brother Charles Jr. along with aunt and uncle, Dianne Peterson and Wiley Peck, Blevins labeled Oliver “the most special point guard ever in Bearden High School history” and “the best student of the game that I’ve ever coached.”

Blevins then recalled how Oliver dominated supposedly superior points guards at Elizabethton and Nashville Maplewood high schools who received major media attention. Oliver’s Maplewood success helped Bearden claim its first-ever state tournament win in 2002.

“Alex, boy he could take a challenge,” Blevins said about Oliver’s competitive nature kicking in before games.

When shown a news article raving about the talents of the Elizabethton point guard prior to their showdown, “Alex was kind of in-between Clint Eastwood and Shaft … he moaned a little bit,” Blevins told the crowd.

A sophomore starting point guard at Alabama State University in Montgomery (6-6 record in the SWAC conference), Oliver finished third all-time in assists at Bearden (349) and was 12th all-time in scoring (1,041 points) before graduating in 2002.

As for adjusting to the Division I college game, “It’s a faster pace, more running,” said Oliver, who added that he’s averaging “about eight points, two assist and two or three rebounds” per game at ASU.

When asked about personal goals at Alabama State, Oliver gave an answer Blevins would surely appreciate.

“There’s no goal, just continue winning,” Oliver said. “I’m not one to worry about how many points I score, just as long we win. I just like to win, you don’t have fun unless you win.”

ACADEMICS TOO

Oliver, 20, is much more than just a talented basketball player at Alabama State.

“This is the type guy Alex is, he was not going to miss class today (Monday), he’s driving all the way from Alabama to get his number retired, watch the games and drive all the way back to Alabama because he doesn’t want to miss class (Tuesday morning),” Blevins said. “That tells you a little bit about Alex Oliver.”

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