Alexa Middleton leaves for Chicago on Saturday to fulfill a childhood dream in playing in the McDonald’s All-American Basketball Game.
On Tuesday, a local McDonald’s helped provide an early send off.
As tradition by the fast food restaurant, the McDonald’s at 2485 South Church St. recognized the Riverdale standout girls basketball player for being named to the McDonald’s All-American Basketball Game by treating her Lady Warrior teammates, family and friends to a meal.
“I feel absolutely blessed and gifted to be able to put this on,” said Michael Anderson, the manager at the South Church Street McDonald’s. “I’d love to give back to the community and be involved. We want to get out there and say thank you for everything they do for us.”
Middleton will spend a few days of practice with her teammates prior to the April 2 game, which will be played at 6 p.m. at the United Center in Chicago (TV: ESPNU).
“I’ve been counting down the days until we leave,” said Middleton, a 5-foot-8 guard and Tennessee signee. “This (event) is kind of cool. All of my family is here. We get to celebrate together.
“And me teammates were here. I couldn’t have done this without them.”
Middleton, who was named the TSSAA Class AAA Miss Basketball, is the first Rutherford County athlete to be named to the McDonald’s All-American Game. She was also named a WBCA All-American, which is also a county first. Middleton was a four-year starter at Riverdale, winning a pair of state titles during her prep career.
Since her prep basketball career ended in February, Middleton has continued to work out with her father Michael Middleton and others to make sure she didn’t lose her edge on the hardwood.
“I’ve been trying to do something at least six days a week,” Alexa Middleton said. “I’ve been trying to keep myself in shape.
“I don’t want it to be one of those things where people look at me and say, ‘Oh, she made that so she’s not going to work any more.’ I’ve been keeping myself ready to go.”
Alexa Middleton finished with more than 2,000 points in her Riverdale career.
She’s also kept close tabs on her future team, the Lady Vols. Alexa Middleton attended Tennessee’s win on Monday over St. John’s with some of her friends.
“During the game I was just thinking, ‘Wow, that’s going to be me out there in a couple months,'” she said. “That’s crazy. It’s all finally happening. I’ve been looking forward to this since I was a little kid.”
Riverdale girls basketball coach Cory Barrett, who coached her the past two high school seasons, said he knew Alexa Middleton would be a special player early on in her basketball career through watching her play AAU ball.
“She’s never not worked,” Barrett said. “It’s in her genes; it’s in her blood to work. She’s never going to be satisfied with the player she is. She is always going to try to improve herself.
“That’s just a testament to her and her character and her family. Every award she gets, she deserves.”