By Josh Svetz
The St. Bonaventure basketball team is always looking to add new talent to separate themselves from the rest of the Atlantic 10. Head coach Mark Schmidt and the rest of the staff look for some of the best high school prospects in the country like everyone else, but in some cases Schmidt taps into the talented junior college circuit. Iakeem Alston is one of these cases.
Graduating from renowned Dunbar High School in Baltimore, the 6’2, 175-pound guard Jones helped the Poets win two Class 1A state championships. In his senior season, Alston was a huge part of the Poets’ success, averaging 16 points, five assists, and three rebounds a game. In addition to this, Alston was selected to the Baltimore All-City team and was also named the MVP of the Mayor’s Academy Tournament.
Alston’s talent drew lots of interest from the JUCO circuit and he decided to enroll at Sheridan Junior College in Wyoming. As a key player for Sheridan, he led the Generals to a 51-13 record during his two years there. As a freshman, Alston averaged nine points, 2.6 rebounds, and three assists while shooting 51 percent from the field and helped Sheridan to a share of the 2012-13 Region IX North title. As a sophomore, he averaged 8.5 points, 4.3 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals while playing 22 minutes a game for the Generals.
After his stint with Sheridan, Alston became one of the highest-rated JUCO basketball prospects in the nation. He drew interest from Pittsburgh, Iowa and Loyola Marymount among others, but ended up choosing St. Bonaventure.
After visiting the school with his father, Alston found many different aspects he enjoyed about the school.
“I liked the coaching staff, environment and the people,” said Alston. “I like everyone on the team.”
Now that he is finally on campus, the junior guard has already set some goals for himself this season and wants to use his experience to become a leader on and off the court.
“I want to be a leader, said Alston. “I want to improve on my game from last season. That’s always the goal.”
With that in mind, Alston likes his team’s chances in the highly competitive Atlantic 10 conference.
“I think we have a pretty good team,” said Alston. “It’s just about bringing everything together.”
While Alston is treating every game with equal importance, one game in particular has special meaning to him. On December 13, St. Bonaventure goes to Pittsburgh to play the Panthers at home. It just so happens that his cousin and former high school teammate is Pittsburgh sophomore forward Jamel Artis. Naturally, there’s been some friendly verbal jabs thrown between the two former teammates.
“There’s a lot of trash talking between us,” said Alston. “He texts me a lot about the game; it’s going to be fun.”
For now, Alston’s main focus is helping the Bonnies remain undefeated as they take on Atlantic 10 rival Siena this Wednesday at the Reilly Center. He had six points, three assists and two rebounds in the 16 minutes he played in the season opener, a 77-57 win over Dartmouth.