Sometimes the beauty of where a basketball player is able to call his athletic and intellectual home for four years doesn´t change even when he moves on to the professional level. Not all players have that luxury of being able to go from class to class, from meal to meal and from practice to practice and have that combination of that urban feeling combined with that touch of nature that is lurking whenever one wants to forget about all the studying and exam stress coupled with the aches and pains of practice and just be able to get immersed with the bit of green that is present in Boston. Players that had to endure a 4 year stay at places like in the Bronx, New York where one can´t exactly feel comfortable with the nonending smell of filth or in other big cities like in Los Angeles with USC or Philadelphia with Temple didn´t have the grandeur of a Justin Alston who not only was able to taste the combination of city and nature for an extra year in that he had a university education for five years, but the beauty of his surroundings will continue as he embarks on his professional journey in Germany tonight. Alston played 5 years at Boston University from 2012-2017 and could be driving down Commonwealth avenue and witness the bustling student life on both sides of the street while always getting closer to the Prudential building which hovered on the horizon, but at the same time be a few minutes away from the pretty Charles river off Storrow Drive which is like a snake that weaves itself around the Boston area. Along the Charles river, the American could find a comfy spot and open a book while having a picturesque view of the Boston skyline while getting that last studying in for that next exam or just get lost for a few minutes with the next opponent Lehigh and try to figure out a way how to contain a Tim Kempton Jr well again. One could say his beauty of nature that he had in Boston will continue in his rookie season when he will be playing for the Romerstrom Gladiators in Trier. Alston will call a city home that like Boston is enriched with unending traditional history and is even older than Boston as it was founded by the Celts in the last 4th century BC and belongs to the oldest cities in Germany. It doesn´t match the population of Boston as only 104,000 people reside there, but the beauty of the Mosel river on which the small city lies on will bring back memories of the Charles river. When driving down Paulin street for the first time and passes the historic and breathtaking Porta Negra, he will remember some of the old landmarks in Boston and feel right at home.
Alston is a 23 year old 203cm forward that hails from Washington DC and just finished his basketball career at Boston University. He will play his rookie season in the German Pro A which is the second division, but a very respected and growing league that has produced some very good talent over the years and helped guys make the next step.
Alston will play for a very traditional team with the Romerstrom Gladiators that have once played in the top division in the German EasyCredit BBL then known as TBB trier and won two titles with the 1998 and 2001 cups. The American didn´t know much about German basketball other than it is highly respected and well known globally and got some positive feedback from ex UMass standout Ricyk Harris who has had a stellar career in Europe and played in Trier in the past. Alston also didn´t make the mistake of many young and fresh Americans waiting too long over the summer and signing, but rather not wasting any time and just going for that first opportunity, but also weighing on some deciding factors. “My family and agent were both very influential in my decision. Also by signing early in the summer it gives me a chance to be stress free about where I will be playing. It was an awesome experience, my agent really helped me understand what kind of things I should be looking for going into my first season, and the Gladiators were my first and only offer but their presentation and offer was very appealing.”, stressed Justin Alston.
Alston comes to Germany with the typical big man repertoire and is a player that can score and rebound on a regular basis, but do so much more. “I would describe my game as being an energy guy who will always be going to give you all I have every night and a guy who isn’t finished developing his game. I still have a lot more things that I need to improve in but that’s the beauty of my game I feel like I am an unfinished project willing to learn and work. And a guy right now in the league who I can compare myself too is Amir Johnson.”, stressed Justin Alston. German basketball fans will also see some other appetizers in his game that he felt had been overlooked in the NCAA. “I believe my touch and ability to knock down open jump shots sometimes gets unnoticed as well as my ability to pass the ball from out of the post”, warned Justin Alston. He possessed a great instinct to be able to position himself well around the basket to get the rebound which is an underappreciated asset at the college level. The American knows what part of his game will aid him most in Germany at the Pro A level. “The part of my game which I see helping me at the next level will probably be my energy and willingness to go after every ball”, stressed Justin Alston. He lists Minnesota Timberwolf Karl Anthony Towns as his toughest opponent at the NCAA level and trained hard the last few months to continue to shape his game for the professional waters. However before the Washington DC native was able to sign on the dotted line and have that professional contract in his possession, he had to earn it and did that Boston University. He brings way more than just refreshing basketball skills to Trier, but a very keen mind.
Alston didn´t go the traditional route that most guys take going the normal 4 years, but an injury helped him stay an extra year as he got a medical redshirt and fifth year of eligibility which in turn also allowed him to not only get a bachelor’s degree in hospitality, but also a masters in project management something that is very rare for a player. On the court in 5 years, he was able to play a total of 114 NCAA games and thanks to a stellar fifth year was named to the All Patriot second team after averaging 12.0ppg, 6.0rpg, FGP: 57.1%, FT: 74.7%. He scored in double figures 19 times including two double doubles. He was able to improve his scoring stats each season and it was no surprise that he won the team´s most improved award three times. There are many memories that he will have especially from his senior year, but having that chance as a junior to battle top school Kentucky playing against future NBA players like the Harrison brothers, Devin Booker, Karl Anthony Towns, Tyler Ulis, Tyler Lyes and Willy Cauley-Stein is something he can tell his grand children even if he lost 89-65. He remembers exactly which one of these guys was the toughest for Boston University to stop. “Devin Booker for sure because going into halftime we were down three points and then in the second half he probably made every three point shot he took”, added Justin Alston. In his senior season he will also remember his last game against Lehigh losing 91-88 in double OT and dueling Tim Kempton twice having his number once, but relinquishing 31 points in that fateful last game. “Years down the line I think I will just still remember how disappointed I was not to reach the NCAA tournament, but I will be thankful for the blessings and opportunities that BU has provided for my life. Just as a competitor I want to win the matchups and win the game, but my motivation isn’t based of another person. I want to be the best that I can be and that’s what motivates me every day”, expressed Justin Alston.
To be extra successful on the court as a player, you need to have that special character which Alston has which in turn makes it easier to have those relationships work with your teammates as well as classmates. On the court as well as in the classroom, he had a very tight bond with Eric Fanning who like Alston also had that five year experience in school after being a freshman at Wagner(NCAA) and being in the masters program. Like Alston, Fanning will embark on a professional career this fall with Egis Kormend (Hungary-A Division). A Fanning was much more than just a friend for Alston. “Eric Fanning is my brother and we fought a lot, we argued a lot but when we both put our heads to one goal we really work well together on and off the court. I always remember his personality and you will not meet to many people like Eric he is one of a kind for sure”, stressed Justin Alston. So often one hears of how players move from school to school as rapidly as new Lebron haters surface after his newest NBA finals loss as more often than not it is the head coach that is the reason, but at Boston University the basketball team is like a family where love is a standard word when the name Joe Jones is mentioned. “Coach Jones is awesome. He is a great guy first before he is a coach to me. He has done so much for me over the years to help in my development as a player and person, I really appreciate him and his family for all their love and support over the years”, warned Justin Alston.
Alston who never lost a one on one in practice against Nick Havener, but stated that his unorthodox game wasn´t easy to defend brings those refreshing basketball skills to Trier, but also that keen mind. So many players find it very difficult to make the transition from professional basketball player to the real world. Often NBA players don´t have to go that way, but then again some do after losing their millions and all of a sudden stand in no man´s land and can´t get a job. For the normal professional playing overseas, they will have to enter the real world and Alston will be ready for that because Boston University will have prepared him in the best way. “Being able to receive my grad year, was one of the best experiences of my life. I had two goals which were to become the best player I could by staying in the gym every day and receiving my masters degree in a year. I was able to complete both of my goals with the help of my friends, coaches, and loving family”, said Justin Alston. Alston already has had experience in the work place during his studies at Boston University working at a Time Share company as well as doing marketing at school and after his professional basketball career would like to venture into consulting in construction or government. He is more than thankful that he could go the player and student route with Boston University. “Boston University has given me the blueprint on how to be successful in life in any field I choose to pursue. BU has provided me with a world class education with a Bachelors in hospitality and business management and a Masters degree in project management.”, warned Justin Alston. Before Alston who lists Lebron as second best of all-time after MJ and Tim Duncan as the best power forward ever could embark on his new adventure to Germany, he already had his brush with the NBA having a work out with the Boston Celtics in the spring time. Connections usually do the job in getting a gig like that, but contact or not, not every player can boast having played in front of an NBA team. “My workout with the Celtics was confirmation that God is always working on your behalf and prayer and hard work pays off. That is an experience which was unreal and something that I will be able to hold with me for the rest of my life. After the workout they told me I really held my own and I should continue working on developing my shot more and being able to handle the ball and I should have a bright future”, stressed Justin Alston. One thing is for sure when Alston is driving down Herzogenbuscher street in Trier and takes a right into the Trier arena for practice or a game, it won´t matter if he is chauffeuring head coach Marco Van Den Berg or veteran German guard Simon Schmitz, they will arrive content having heard his relevant NBA stories or simply his visions of how he will make a difference in the corporate world in the future.