After the highly coveted Nike Peach Jam Finals in Augusta, SC last weekend, Class of 2018 PG Alex “ALO” Lomax (Memphis East HS/Team Penny) earned scholarship offers from The University of Memphis,University of Florida, LSU (Louisiana State University), University of Tennessee at Martin, Seton Hall University, Temple University, University of Massachusetts, and Ole Miss (University of Mississippi). This is a tremendous accomplishment! However, what is more impressive to me is ALO’s journey. Take a walk with me for a second and let me show you what HARD and FAIR WORK looks like and where it gets you.
ALO was born and raised in a small and gritty neighborhood in the city of Memphis. The neighborhood is called Binghampton, the same neighborhood where I grew up. He was raised in an apartment complex called Eastern Heights Apartments or as we like to call it “Johnson Circle”. This is the same apartment complex I grew up as a kid. In fact, ALO lived directly behind me. ALO, just like many other young men in the Binghampton community WORSHIPPED basketball. However, he unlike many of us worked his way into becoming known nationally as one of the BEST PG’s in the country.
Some may wonder, why am I writing about this kid? Is it only because he is from my neighborhood? No. I am writing because his journey is refreshing and it hits closer to home because he is from my neighborhood. I am so proud of him. So here we go:
As an AAU, middle school, and high school basketball coach, I feel that I look at the game a lot different than other coaches and players. People call me old school. I do not buy into what’s sexy now about the sport. The fancy dribbling, the high flying dunks, throwing up hand signs after every three point shot, the colorful shoes, nike elite socks, camouflage tights, etc. I don’t care about any of that. I care about hard nosed, hard working players who are winners. I care about guys who play defense, respect their coaches, respect their teammates, respect their parents, and respect their opponents. However, every year I get reaffirmed that most scouts, coaches, recruiters, experts don’t feel the same way. They look for the sexy kids. The kids with all of the swagger, the kids with the “machine/hype” behind them. The kids with 100 highlight videos. The kids who have bounced around school to school, travel team to travel team (because it is the coach’s fault). They are always looking for the quick fix. However, they get rewarded for these unhealthy actions. I have seen this happen way too many times, especially in Atlanta (where I now reside) and it is THE MOST FRUSTRATING thing because at the end of the day, it negatively affects our youth.
This is not the case with ALO. ALO has stayed true to his principles. He played for Lester Middle School (our neighborhood middle school) and won three Tennessee state titles under the leadership of the great Desmond Merriweather (RIP) and Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway . As a freshman in high school at Memphis East he led his Varsity Basketball team to the State Semifinals in the highest class AAA. His sophomore year he led his team back to the State tournament and won the State Championship. He was MVP of that tournament and he was also voted Tennessee Gatorade Player of the Year Mr. Basketball as a sophomore. He played for the Team Penny AAU organization and his Class of 2018 team had been successful every single year. But guess what, after all of those accomplishments, ALO still had NO OFFERS from any colleges. I’m talking D1, D2, D3. No offers. One of the most accomplished basketball players in the country had no offers. Why you may ask? Because he wasn’t the sexy player. ALO stands at 5’10/5’11. He doesn’t jack up threes when he crosses half court. He doesn’t try to put on a show and dribble the ball 800 times before he passes to an open teammate. No, ALO plays the RIGHT WAY. He talks on defense. He takes charges. He dives on the floor for loose balls. He’s a leader, he’s a dog, he’s a winner. He will not score 40pts in a game while attempting 40 shots. No, he is going to lead his team to victory. I had the privilege to coach CP3 National Middle School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina for three years. In 2014, I had the privilege to invite ALO to this camp and I was so excited to see him compete. He was in 8th grade. Now, we have three all star games at this camp: the Dunk Dog All American Game, the Top 20 Game, and the Top 40 game. This is a total of 60 players. Yes, you guessed it, ALO was not selected for ANY of the all star games much to my chagrin. I went to bat for ALO to make at least one of the games, but the “experts” were not having it. I remember texting ALO, letting him know that his time would come, just keep doing it the right way.
Also, that summer, I was able to be a group leader and take a group of 50 kids to “Kids Across America” (an urban Christian Camp) in Golden, Missouri. One of those kids was ALO. I spent that entire week staying in his ear. Letting him know that he had somebody on the outside looking in that loved him. A REAL man that loves him. That week, he grew as a young man spiritually. He was a leader in his cabin, and won a leadership award at the end of the week. That was THE MOST REWARDING experience for me. This went beyond basketball. That was a moment I will always cherish. He learned some things that week that he can carry along for the rest of his life.
Now, let’s fast forward to last weekend in Augusta. Twitter was blowing up for ALO. So many “experts” claimed to have never heard of ALO. How could you not have heard about Mr. Basketball in Tennessee? However, as he had always done, ALO did it the right way. He was a leader, he made tough shots, he set up his teammates in half court offense, he looked up the court in transition for easy baskets, and most importantly he made played TOUGH and HARD NOSED defense against some of the best guards in the country He stuck with the same program. He stuck with his coach. He stuck with his school. He was a leader. He had faith that GOD had his back and the results showed. He didn’t look for the easy way out, he didn’t jump team to team. And when it was all said and done, the college offers came rolling in! Salute to you Mr. Alex Lomax! You are one of the very FEW young men who did it the right way. I hope your peers read this and realize that the old fashion way still works. In fact, I hope coaches and parents all over the country read this and realize the same thing. Please do not cheat your children!! Allow to experience the sweet taste of success through hard earned sacrifice. This was ALO’s journey!
Shout out to Lester Community Center! Shout out to Jeanita Davis! Shout out to Walter Cleveland Casey! Shout out to the deceased Desmond “DEZ” Merriweather! Shout out to his deceased Grandmother! Shout out to Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway! All of these individuals have led ALO on this journey and they deserve to be recognized!
BINGHAMPTON! Much Love! Much Respect! Til the day that I die!
BUILT FOR BASKETBALL!!
FAITH OVER FEAR!
Coach T signing off! Fearless!