Alex Barner is a 193 com guard from Fort Scott, Kansas that recently participated at the HowardHoops tour in the Dominican Republic. He played at Fort Scott CC and Cent.Methodist (NAIA) where as a senior he played 30 games averaging 5.7ppg, 5.4rpg, 1.0apg, FGP: 43.3%, 3PT: 26.9%, FT: 70.0%. He has professional experience with the Kansas City Soul (ABA) and last season played with Asocoacion Baloncesto de Apopa (El Salvador-Liga Superior) playing 23 games: Score-2(31.3ppg), Reb-2(16.5rpg), 3.2apg, Steals-2(2.7spg), Blocks-2(2.0bpg), FGP-3(57.6%), 3PT: 34.2%, FT: 77.6%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about basketball.
Alex thanks for talking to germanhoops.com Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you at the moment?
At the moment I am in Santiago, Dominican Republic. The basketball life is treating me well. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a grind, but being a small town kid from Kansas I’m just blessed to have been granted the opportunity to take my skills to other countries where people that have never seen me play can enjoy and appreciate my craft.
You been out of school five years now and have minimal professional experience having played in the ABA and in El Salvador. Why do you feel has it been such a struggle for you?
I wouldn’t say it’s been a struggle I look at it as more of a process. We all have different paths and mine has brought me right to where I need to be. Coupled with a complete lack of knowledge of the overseas basketball experience and lack of contacts that slowed me down some but I’ve stayed committed, got my foot in the door and new opportunities present themselves to me in what seems like every day.
Before we talk about your career let´s talk about the last weekend. You recently were added to the Howard Hoops roster for the tour in Santiago in the Dominican Republic. How excited were you to be getting an opportunity like this?
Extremely excited. Having been on only one tour prior to this I know how hard it can be to get on a roster. So when Ron told me I was in I was hype. Any chance you get to get your name out there is an opportunity to really be seen, and on tour they aren’t seeing you on Facebook and YouTube, they get to see it in person.
How did the whole process of becoming part of the Howard Hoops roster function? Did you send in a video to Ron Howard or did you actually know him before or have a meeting?
I actually reached out to Ron first. I saw that he had a tour coming up and I was looking for an opportunity so we got to talking md he had me send over some film my season in the Top Division in El Salvador and he got back with me not long after that to inform me I’d be making the trip with his team.
How aware were you that the chances of signing a contract after a Howard Hoops tour aren´t that bad. With what kind of expectations did you go with into this tour?
I actually wasn’t aware of that at all until a few days and after getting to sit down and actually talk with Coach Howard about some of the ins and out of the industry and the success of some of his previous tours. The only expectations I had coming into this were that of myself, I told myself I was going to come here work hard, be a great teammate and help get some W’s.
How fit are you. You have minimal professional basketball experience and must be as hungry as a famished bear over winter
You can say that again haha, but I’m at the gym multiple times a day. I heard a quote some time ago and it has always stuck with me, “Prior preparation prevents poor performance.” So I wanted to stay ready for when an opportunity such as this presented itself.
How confident were you that you would make an impact on this tour and leave it signing a professional contract?
I landed a contract on the last tour I participated in so I figured my chances were just as good as anyone’s on this one. Ultimately I knew it would ultimately come down to what teams needed and were looking at position wise to prepare for their upcoming season.
Talk a little about how the weekend went for you. Did you pass the test or do you feel like you could have done better against the overall competition?
I would say so. I feel that I played hard from start to finish and did everything I could to contribute to the teams success. You always have those a couple of shots you feel you should have hit along the way but I don’t think there was any point during the tour that my effort was in question.
Please give a brief description about your game and why you could be an asset to any professional team in Europe?
I’m a versatile player who is athletic, runs the floor very well, shots the ball with great consistency, rebounds well and most importantly is a very coachable player who plays tough defense. I am a great teammate and take pride in doing the little things that a lot of players don’t care about.
What was your impression about Howard Hoops CEO and founder Ron Howard. How quickly did you sense that his passion for helping get players a job was huge?
Very impressed with him, more so in the kind of person he was than anything else. I knew from the jump that Ron was a serious cat. He takes what he does very seriously and is eager to help those that he feels truly deserve an opportunity to play get contracts, he knows his success lies in those that he helps reach their goals.
Now let´s talk a bit about your career. You finished at Central Methodist in 2013 and got your first real professional opportunity on 2016 with the Kansas City Soul (ABA). How tough were these years and what kind of work did you do to support yourself?
It was a lot tougher in a mental aspect than I imagined it would be. Right out of school I didn’t really have the option to really focus on basketball and advancing my career how I would have liked to. Newly graduated, no money and no job experience I went to work in a factory so I could start paying the bills. As you stated it wasn’t until a couple of years after I’d been out of school and working two part time gigs along with my 9-5 that I got a chance to play in the ABA.
Were you connected with an agent in this time or did you realize after a while that not having representation was really hindering you from signing any type of professional contract?
I have actually never been represented by anyone but it didn’t take long to see that the guys that were landing jobs were people that had great player representation. I knew if I wanted to make that jump from semi-professional ball to professional ball that I would have to take the necessary steps to make that my reality.
What kind of experience was it playing with the Kansas City Soul (ABA). What in this time continued to drive you to keep grinding and wanting to push on with your professional career?
It was an overall great experience to say the least, I originally tried out for the team to see if I could even still play at a high level. After traveling around the Midwest with the Kansas City Soul and seeing the plethora of talent and that I was competing and in some cases out performing guys that went to bigger schools or already had overseas experience I knew there was no way I could let my talent go to waste. That experience alone was an eye opener for me and that kept me going, I looked at it like if this guy can, why can’t I?
Last season you played with the Asocoacion Baloncesto de Apopa (El Salvador-Liga Superior) playing 23 Clausura games: Score-2(31.3ppg), Reb-2(16.5rpg), 3.2apg, Steals-2(2.7spg), Blocks-2(2.0bpg), FGP-3(57.6%), 3PT: 34.2%, FT: 77.6%. You tore up the league. This season obviously gave you huge confidence. What did you enjoy most in this season?
Absolutely. There are a lot of things that I thoroughly enjoyed but I would definitely have to say just being able to be such an integral part of a teams success. Prior to my arrival the club had never been to the playoffs, and to be able to come in and help them make their first Finals appearance in club history was a treat within itself.
You really put up amazing stats. Would be fair to say that you were a man playing with boys?
I don’t know if I would go as far as to say that, I think I was just really excited about the opportunity and wanted to prove myself. Prior to my arrival I had heard stories from friends about how poor play would earn you a one way ticket back to the states so I went out every game and made sure that they wouldn’t have a choice but to keep me.
You put up some crazy numbers including a 28 point and 35 rebound game against Nejapa getting the easy win. Just at looking at the stats was that one of the best games that you played in your life.
Idk if I would call that my best game but it’s definitely up there. That was a night that unlike most others I was extremely active on both ends of the floor and found myself in position to secure those boards and get up good quality shots all night.
You were swept by top team Halcones in the final losing game one by 39 points, but you stayed with them in game two and three losing by only seven points in both games. What do you feel was missing to turn around the series in your favor?
One word Miles, experience. I mentioned before that it was the clubs first time to ever play on that large of a stage so the nerves got to some but no doubt it was valuable experience for the rest of the team as well as a growing experience for myself.
One saw some crazy stats in these games. Halcones shot 2/27 from outside including Malik Jackson who went 0/15 from outside, but he still scored 27 points. He has a similar career path as yours as he also finished school in 2013 and it took him until 2017 to find basketball love in El Salvador. What was it like battling him and will you be following his career now after seeing where he came from?
Malik is one of the best players I’ve had the pleasure of going to war against. He challenged me unlike many others have been able to do before and I’m thankful for it. I’ve run into a few players playing professionally that I still keep up with, him included. Being away from home in an entirely different country you are naturally drawn to the foreign players.
Your from Kansas and played at Fort Scott community College and then at Central Methodist(NAIA). What kind of experience was it for you getting to play at both schools and what will you remember most from the years spent there?
It was a great learning experience being able to play at both school. In the NJCAA you are playing against guys that are freak athletes, where as when I went to CMU in the HAAC I ran into and competed with more fundamentally sound players and I think those different dynamics really helped shape my game. The thing I will remember most is the relationships I was able to create with my teammates. In college you guys do everything together so you became family. My teammates, or brothers as we like to say, and the memories that we created in and off the course will always be one of my favorite pastimes.
How did head coach Jeff Sherman groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
He and the coaching staff at Central did a great job by continuing to challenge me, not only as a basketball player but as a man as well.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Elliot Black?
Me and EB used to have some battles! But I came out on top more times than not.
If you had to construct your very own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you pick old or new?
That’s a great question, I’m going to go with MJ, Bron, Magic, & Allen Iverson
What is your personal opinion of the never-ending debate about who is better Lebron or Jordan?
It’s hard to say with them playing in completely different eras, but if I had to say anything it would be that MJ will always be the Goat but Lebron is definitely the greatest player of my lifetime.
Tracy Mcgrady said that the Boston Celtics will be the Golden State Warriors of the future. Do you see that happening?
As far as dominating their conference the way Golden State has in recent years I would say that is a fair statement. As to them rattling off Championships the way they have has yet to be seen. It will definitely be interesting to see though.
Lebron James makes amazing passes in every game, but really showcased it in a game this season against the Los Angeles Lakers. He already is like a point guard, but if he played just point guard and concentrated only on playmaking how many assists do you feel would he average per game?
I believe he could average 10+ if he wanted to. He’s a great passer and attracts a ton of attention when the ball is in his hand it would be nothing for him to dish a high number of assists night in and night out.
What was the last movie that you saw? Let me guess Black Panther?
No that was the movie I watched prior to the last one. Haha it was actually the Equalizer 2, I love me some Denzell.
Thanks Alex for the chat.