• HS Tennis 9/18: Escanaba 7, Gladstone 1
  • HS Football 9/18: North Central 84, Ontonagon 6
  • HS Football 9/18: Stephenson 60, North Dickinson 6
  • HS Football 9/18: Munising 30, Rudyard 26
  • HS Football 9/18: Marquette 41, Menominee 18
  • HS Football 9/18: Kingsford 17, Calumet 16
  • HS Football 9/18: Negaunee 39, Manistique 8
  • HS Football 9/18: West Iron County 28, Norway 6
4246 articles
Saturday September 19, 2020

ESCANABA---From the moment he came to America from across the Atlantic Ocean from Great Britain two years ago, Christian Alexander has had one dream: to play NCAA Division One college basketball.

That dream became a reality as Alexander signed a National Letter of Intent to attend school and play ball at Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina.

After a solid sophomore season that saw him earn NJCAA All-Region honors, the 6-foot-8, 240-pound Alexander fielded many calls from colleges of all sizes.

Finally, the call came from a D-1 school.

"Gardner-Webb contacted me via phone and we just hit it off well," Alexander said. "They contacted (Bay) Coach (Matt) Johnson as well. They saw some of my tape, and they liked what they see, and you know, it just kind of went from there."

"It's definitely a weight lifted off of my shoulders. It took a lot to get there. It's a lot of work that a lot of people don't see. Early mornings, late nights. It's hard to describe. You wake up at 4:30 in the morning and you finish (training, practicing) at 11, 12 at night. It's an every day thing."

The Runnin' Bulldogs are a member of the Big South Conference, and the school made the NCAA "March Madness" Tournament in 2019, and had the lead over top-seeded Virginia, 36-30, at hlaftime, before losing, 71-56. Virginia went on to win the national title.

Gardner-Webb was 16-16 in the 2020 season before the coronavirus ended play.

Alexander had averages of 13.6 points and 9.6 rebounds per game this past season for the Norse.

He shot 61.7 percent from the floor, which was ranked 13th nationally, and scored 20 or more points in six different games.

He posted 11 double-doubles on the season and ranked in the top-20 nationally in offensive rebounds (16th) and total rebounds (17th).

"Christian fills an important role for us by adding depth in the post," Gardner-Webb Head Coach Tim Craft said. "He is a physical big who can step in and play some minutes for us. His athleticism and rebounding ability should translate to this level of basketball and we are excited to add him to the class."

Alexander knows he has to step up his game even more to go from JUCO ball to NCAA Division One basketball.

"The transition of coming from England, to come to America, at first, playing JUCO, is a lot quicker," Alexander said. "I just feel like that speed is going to increase going to the Division One level. I feel like I'll have to get used to the game again. I need to improve on a lot of my shot-creative stuff, my ball handling stuff, which I know will come."

And where has he improved the most in the past year?

"I think this year, for sure, my overall dominance has improved, just being an overall threat, in the post, wherever I am when I catch the ball, and that has translated into double teams and triple teams," Alexander said. "That gave my teammates a chance to get some open looks."

Bay College Coach Matt Johnson says that Alexander's dedication and work ethic are his biggest qualities.

"I couldn't be more excited for Christian," Johnson said.  "He has worked incredibly hard the past two years to put himself in this position.  To play at the division one level is an awesome achievement.  Gardner-Webb is getting a great young man."

Alexander is still in Escanaba, on the Bay College campus. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, he's finishing up his Bay classes on-line, literally just down the road from where he would normally be the tallest guy in his classes.

Just down the road from the place where he electrified the U.P. crowds with emphatic slam dunk after slam dunk.

And for a young man who's used to spending the vast majority of his waking hours shooting in the gym, working out in the wight room, or doing other training, this coronavirus pandemic is tough.

The YMCA is off-limits, local fitness clubs closed, by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer's executive orders that have been in place since mid-March.

Alexander, though, is grateful. He knows it could be a lot worse, with people in his home country under weeks of an intense lockdown.

His country's prime minister was badly sickened by COVID-19 and his since recovered. But Alexander is here, in a place with only 13 confirmed positive cases.

"I'm still working out," Alexander said. "I'm playing basketball outside, doing ball-handling drills. I'm running. I'm doing body weight exercises. From a mentality standpoint, I'm still blessed. I know I've got a lot of things going for me. I've got a roof over my head, a lot more than other people have in this kind of situation. So, I'm not complaining at all."

Maybe, just maybe, the Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs will make the NCAA Big Dance again in 2021. Maybe, they'll not only have the lead at halftime, but this time, they'll shock a top seeded team on national television. And maybe, the Big Brit, from Dorset by way of Escanaba, will have his moment on the biggest of stages.

Click the thumbnails in the ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS box above to see Alexander's highlight film, see photos, and listen to his radio interview.

Choose team:
No schedule entries

COACH 'YO: Bay College Grad To Join NMU Staff
Saturday May 9, 2020
Alexander, Hardwick Named To All-Regional Team
Friday April 17, 2020
END OF THE LINE: Bay Men Eliminated By DCTC
Wednesday February 26, 2020
Bay College Men Hold Off Truman College, 71-64
Saturday February 15, 2020
WINDY CITY WIN: Norse Grind Past Daley College
Friday February 14, 2020
Bay Men Overwhelm Gogebic; Sweep Season Series
Wednesday February 12, 2020
OUTGUNNED: Second Half Drought Dooms Norse
Saturday February 8, 2020
Comeback Falls Short For Norse Men's Basketball
Saturday February 1, 2020
ROLLING ALONG: Norse Men Dominate Finlandia
Wednesday January 29, 2020
Fast Start Helps Norse Overwhelm Finlandia, 97-78
Saturday January 25, 2020
BOUNCING BACK: Norse Top Junior Lakers, 98-75
Sunday January 19, 2020
Saturday January 18, 2020
Wagner, Norse Beat Gogebic With Big Second Half
Wednesday January 15, 2020
BAY'S BIG BRIT: Alexander Has Eye On Next Level
Monday January 13, 2020
Bay College Mens Basketball Strolls Past Alpena CC
Saturday January 11, 2020
Norse Rally For Big Road Win In Minnesota, 80-76
Wednesday January 8, 2020
Wagner Clutch As Bay Men Beat Sault College 81-77
Friday January 3, 2020
Robinette, Norse Bounce Back To Win In Minnesota
Sunday December 22, 2019
DEFENSIVE WOES: Norse Fall To Rochester Tech
Saturday December 21, 2019
No. 8 Milwaukee Tech Men Roll Past Norse, 98-82
Sunday December 15, 2019
TUNE-UP VICTORY: Bay Tops Hawks; MATC Next
Saturday December 14, 2019
DOUBLE OT THRILLER: Norse Top Lakers, 95-90
Sunday December 8, 2019
Norse Men's Basketball Dominated Downstate
Friday December 6, 2019
Gogebic Lindquist Tournament Games Cancelled
Friday November 29, 2019
ROLLIN' RYAN: Robinette Threes Lead Bay, 90-67
Thursday November 28, 2019
STORM WARNING: Milwaukee Tech Beats Norse
Friday November 22, 2019
Norse Open Home Season With Win Over JV Lakers
Sunday November 17, 2019
BOUNCING BACK: Guards Lead Norse To Victory
Sunday November 3, 2019
Norse Men Set To Open 2019-'20 Season Downstate
Thursday October 31, 2019
DEFENSE RULES: Northern Pulls Away From Bay
Friday October 25, 2019