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Oliver ‘excited’ about 12-point effort vs. Vols

Alex Oliver said playing in Thompson-Boiling Arena against the Vols “was exciting.”

The former Bearden High School basketball star came back to Knoxville on a business trip Tuesday, Dec. 14, and made an impression in front of family and BHS friends.

Oliver, a 6-foot-1, 183 pound junior shooting guard, scored a team-high 12 points for his Alabama State University basketball team against the Tennessee Volunteers despite a 71-45 Vol rout.

“Charles, his dad, and Jessie, his mom, had a reception for him after the game in Thompson-Boiling,” said BHS boys basketball head coach Mark Blevins, who brought his current Bulldog team to see Oliver play. “We went down and talked quite a while to Alex.”

Despite a 1-5 ASU record entering the week, “Alex is very likely going to lead Alabama State to the NCAAs this year and next year, even though they’re off to a slow start,” Blevins said. “They’ve had some injuries.”

Although Oliver said he doesn’t like playing two guard as well as point guard — the position he starred at with BHS — he said he’s improved his shooting to the point of being the team’s most reliable perimeter shooter “at this current moment.”

However, “My strongest point this year, so far, has been defense,” Oliver said, adding that he’s improved on his “decision-making.”

Oliver is averaging 9.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.

“One of my biggest goals is having another SWAC (Southwest Athletic Conference) championship,” the 20-year-old added. “And improve my rebounding, assists and points.”

Oliver was also a starting guard on last season’s Alabama State team that won the SWAC tournament championship to earn a trip to the NCAA Division I basketball tournament in March, where it lost to national powerhouse Duke in the first round.

Despite playing powerhouse Duke and legendary head coach Mike Krzyzewski, “We went into the game just like any other game,” Oliver said, though he added, “It was something to play against Coach K.”

A mathematics major at ASU, “He’s doing really well in school,” Blevins said. “He’s a team leader, the coaches are all so pleased with him. Of course, we knew Alex was going to be great player he is because he’s, first of all, such a special type person, has tremendous character.”

As an All-state point guard his senior season in 2002, Oliver led Bearden to the Class AAA state tournament semifinals — the deepest a Bulldog team has ever advanced.


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