On May 19, Riverdale (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) guard Alexa Middleton announced her commitment to Tennessee. Middleton’s brilliant basketball skills, however, are hardly a news flash. Florida, Georgia, Auburn, LSU and Kentucky (and many others) had coveted the 5-foot-9 guard, too.
Middleton anchored the Lady Warriors this past season, averaging 15.9 points, 3.6 assists and 2.6 steals per game as she steered the team to an undefeated record (35-0) and a second consecutive Class AAA state title.
Could her success, in part, be attributed to one-on-one pushing around with her older brother growing up? Why, yes. At least, that’s what Middleton shared with us, along with a few other things
Recall your initial experiences with a basketball. What was it like playing against your older brother?
Playing against a bigger body, someone more athletic who pushed me helped me become more physical and aggressive. When you’re younger, you want to out-show your older sibling. You don’t want to be pushed around. We had a goal in the backyard that could be lowered. There were days when we’d get mad at each other and our parents would have to come and tell us to calm down. And we had days goofing around playing horse.
You received offers from all over the place. How did you balance recruiting with school, training, practices and hanging out with friends?
I tried not to get too stressed out about it or let it overwhelm me. I’d let coaches know if I had to study and couldn’t call them.
What did you learn from being cut from the U17 USA National Team trials?
It was neat getting to play with top girls around the nation who love basketball just as much as I do. Being cut was really upsetting, but gave me motivation to work harder. When I got cut, it brought a lot of perspective realizing that even though I didn’t get to be on the team, I’d still pushed myself to make sure I got better.
You’ve worked with former Boston Celtics guard Dee Brown to improve your shooting technique. Tell us about that experience.
I’m friends with his daughter, Lexie, so that’s how have the connection. I worked out with him before I went to the USA Trials and also a couple years before that. It was neat to workout with a former NBA player and get insight. He always told me to have swagger when I get out there and shoot – have confidence and know what I can do.
Your phenomenal basketball skills are no secret. Off the court, what’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
I really like art – I like to draw and paint with acrylics on canvas. I do a lot of painting around holidays for my grandmother and mom. I’ll make a background and paint their favorite quote or a Bible scripture.
What are your gym bag staples?
Definitely deodorant and ponytail holders.
How do you think you’ve changed since freshman season?
As a freshman, I was passive. I’ve become more confident. I’ve developed a more aggressive side. Don’t doubt your skills. Believe in yourself.