Alexander develops quickly as GVSU starter

By Jay Bushen | 2/19/14 8:01pm


Freshman Trevin Alexander. GVL / Emily Frye

Freshman forward Trevin Alexander may be known as a cerebral individual off the court, but once his sneakers squeak the hardwood, he’s been known to enter “beast mode.”

Alexander recently worked his way into the starting lineup for the Grand Valley State University men’s basketball team and has found a way to provide a spark with his enthusiasm and versatility for the playoff-seeking Lakers.

“I bring intensity,” he said. “I like to get the crowd into it, bring the energy, clap in a guy’s face and get hyped. When I get a block I like to yell and bring that fire into the game.”

Not the type of personality one might expect from a former National Honor Society participant, but the type of interior presence that is too valuable to leave on the bench.

It’s a surprisingly multidimensional skill set for a first-year player.

The 6-foot-6 rookie has been making the most out of his 18.3 minutes per game so far this season, and his per-game averages prove it. He ranks first on the team in offensive rebounds (2.0), second in total rebounds (5.0), third in blocked shots (0.4), and fourth in steals (0.9).

He and junior center Darren Washington may not be bonafide inside scoring threats just yet, but they bring defense, rebounding and 470 pounds of muscle to the starting rotation.

It’s not easy for opponents to score in the paint.

“Trevin likes to throw around his big body,” Washington said. “He’s a big dude, he’s heavier and stronger than he looks. It’s already tough with our guards, who have been playing really good defense as of late, but Trevin’s a big body, I’m a big body, and it’s tough to get down there.”

Alexander has the nifty footwork on the low block to draw multiple defenders, which makes it easier for outside gunners like junior guard Ryan Sabin or sophomore guard Darren Kapustka to get open looks from long range.

The freshman also has a smooth shot for a big man and has scored in double figures seven times this season to go with a pair of double-doubles.

“He’s been terrific for us, a key part of our lineup,” Washington said. “At the beginning of the season, honestly I didn’t know he was a scorer like he is, but coach gave him the green light. He’s got range from 17 feet all the way out to the three-point line.”

Head coach Ric Wesley said the light isn’t exactly flashing, but Alexander has still exceeded his hopes through 23 games.

“He’s got good strength even though he doesn’t have tremendous height,” Wesley said. “He can play with the big guys around the basket, has a good outside shot and is a good passer so he can do some things at the arc and free-throw line.”

Still, the most impressive aspect of Alexander’s game may be his basketball IQ. He simply has not made the consistent mistakes one might expect from a first-year player.

The same can be said about his focus in the classroom, and he’s got his mama to thank for that. He said he was raised in a house that always placed academics above basketball.

His on-court persona reflects it.

“The things that tend to stand out are when I see him mentally get ahead of the game and anticipate the next play,” Wesley said. “It’s not always a slam dunk or a three-point shot, but it’s the small nuances within the game that seem to stand out — being in the right place at the right time.”

It’s a beastly combination of brains and brawn, and if he continues to develop, he’ll have a big career ahead of him as a student athlete at GVSU.

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