Favorite athlete: Kobe Bryant
Favorite team: Clippers
Favorite memory competing in sports: My favorite memory was when I got my first dunk in AAU the summer of eighth grade. I was on a fastbreak, and I did a two-hand tomahawk.
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: My AAU team had a tournament in Virginia, and in one of the game someone broke my teammate’s ankles at center court.
Music on mobile devie: Rap, hip hop and R&B
Future plans: My future plans are to play in college and to hopefully play in the NBA one day.
Words to live by: “It’s not how you start, it’s about how you finish.” “Don’t let your past or a situation define who you are.”
One goal before turning 30: One goal I have before I turn 30 to travel the world with my loved ones.
One thing people don’t know about you: When you really get to know me I’m a true goofball and I like to dance a lot.
By Mary Jane Souder
Mention the name Jeremiah Alexander to those who know the Bensalem senior best, and it’s a safe bet that– like his basketball coach – they will throw out phrases like ‘awesome kid’ to describe him.
“Everyone who crosses paths with him says the same thing because he’s such a good kid,” Bensalem coach Ron Morris said.
Sounds cliché, doesn’t it? In this case, it’s not.
Alexander has known more than his share of adversity, but during the tough times, he’s refused to let his circumstances define him.
“I wouldn’t walk around upset because it’s nobody else’s fault, so I wouldn’t treat somebody bad because of the situation I’m in when they don’t know what’s going on, so I walked around with a smile on my face because I always thought tomorrow would be a better day,” Alexander said.
That ever-present smile has not gone unnoticed by an Owls’ basketball squad that is at the top of the SOL National Conference standings and is in the top eight of the latest District One 6A power rankings.
“He’s just a phenomenal kid,” Morris said. “He’s respectful, he appreciates everything everyone does for him, he’s ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ and he goes out of his way to help people.
“You would never know that anything was going on outside of school or basketball because he’s always smiling. When he’s smiling, we’re at our best because our kids see it, and they feed off of it. He’s a natural leader.”
The lone returning starter from last year’s squad, Alexander was a no-brainer choice for captain.
“He’s a leader by example, and he’s a vocal leader,” Morris said. “He has this charisma, and when he talks, you listen.
“He’s a natural leader as far as making good decisions and doing things the right way, and because he is a leader, our kids will follow him, and our players are going to do things the right way.
“He’s a very athletic kid, and he’s been working extremely hard on his skills. His work ethic is top notch. Because his work ethic is so good, everyone follows suit. He’s special. When you come across individuals that are special, you know it right from the beginning, and he’s one of those individuals.”
Alexander is a relative newcomer to the sport of basketball – and all competitive sports for that matter.
“I wasn’t really into sports,” he said. “I was more into school than I was into sports. I didn’t really start playing sports until seventh grade.”
And then he played only because coaches began asking him to try out for their teams. First it was the football coach.
“I tried out, made the team and started at running back,” Alexander said. “The basketball coach asked me – ‘Do you want to try out for the team?’
“I was like, ‘Sure,’ so I made the team, but I didn’t play that much because it was my first time playing basketball. After basketball, the track coach asked me to run track. It was my first time on a track. I did well in that as well.”
Alexander, who resided in the Pennsbury School District, competed in all three sports in seventh and eight grades. He was asked to play for a Pennsbury Regional Basketball League (PRBL) squad and a year later – in eighth grade – was invited to try out for the New Jersey Connection on the AAU circuit.
“I tried out, and I played for them - all the other sports just cancelled out,” he said.
He appeared to be on the fast track to something special but then – except for a few jayvee games freshman year – he did not play high school basketball as a freshman or sophomore.
“I’ve had family situations - my family became homeless,” Alexander said. “My 10th grade year it was the same situation. I missed everything that had to do with basketball.”
“It was tough because I wasn’t with my mom all the time and I knew she needed me. Towards the end of my 10th grade year, we were in a homeless shelter, and I finished out 10th grade at Pennsbury.
“In the summertime, they helped my mom find an apartment in Bensalem. She said, ‘Next year, you’re going to Bensalem.’ All my friends were at Pennsbury. I really didn’t know anything about Bensalem, and I was like, ‘I don’t want to go to Bensalem.’”
In mid-October, Alexander enrolled at Bensalem.
“I was a little alienated,” he said. “It was my 11th grade year, and I didn’t really know anybody.
“Basketball helped because I dunked on one kid at a workout and then everybody knew my name from then on, so it was like, ‘Okay.’ Basketball has been an outlet for me ever since I’ve had the situation with my family.”
Alexander stepped into the starting lineup last winter and never left. Defense is the 6-4 forward’s forte.
“We’re able to play as much pressure as we do because we know we have him back there as a rim protector,” Morris said. “He gets so many rebounds. He alters shots without even blocking shots because they know he’s there.
“Offensively, he just continues to get better and better. His handle has gotten a lot better, he’s been able to finish around the rim this year. His jump shot has gotten better.”
“I love shutting people down,” Alexander said. “Sometimes before a game I might say, ‘You won’t score on me.’ A lot of people like to test my jumping ability for some reason. Playing defense is probably the best part of basketball.”
Alexander found more than a basketball team at Bensalem.
“He’s like one of my kids – I’d do anything for him and any of my players,” Morris said. “I always tell my kids we don’t say ‘family’ because it’s trendy, so when we say it, we really mean it.
“If one of the players has something going on, we’re all involved. Whether it’s positive or negative, we’re there for each other. It’s truly a tight-knit group of kids that have come a long way in a short amount of time.”
Morris can’t say enough good things about his senior captain.
“Usually kids in that environment end up going down the wrong path,” the Owls’ coach said. “When you meet Jerry and talk to Jerry, he’s the total opposite.
“I keep telling him, ‘Just keep being you. Basketball will take care of itself.’ Our philosophy as coaches has always been – it’s our job to teach these guys to be a better young man today than you were yesterday, and if you continue with that philosophy of being a better young man, basketball is going to take care of itself.
“This is a prime example of that because Jerry is such a great kid. Our community is awesome, our school community is awesome, and when they heard the situation, there were so many staff members that reached out and wanted to help this kid any way they could because he’s such a great kid. We always talk about – it’s bigger than basketball, and when you are a good person, people want to help you.”
“I’m very grateful for everything all the people have done for me because they don’t have to,” Alexander said.
Next year, he plans on playing basketball at the collegiate level.
“I don’t have any offers yet,” Alexander said. “Right now I’m waiting and I’m going to keep working until I reach my goal, and then we’ll see from there.”
For now, the senior captain is focused on his final high school season.
“I’m enjoying it a lot,” he said. “I had to step up and become a leader because I was the only returning starter from last year.
“It’s not really like a team or just people I got to school with – it’s more like a family. I’m here with family, so I’m okay. I’m comfortable, I’m loving my senior year. I’m going to be sad when I leave, but you’ve got to move on.”
Alexander’s impact on the team is impossible to measure.
“He just has those leadership qualities that continue to flourish and help us win basketball games but more importantly help all of us become better people,” Morris said. “Ever since he’s come here, our team has become a better team because of him and not even basketball-wise. He’s always helping other people. He always says – you don’t have to have anything to help someone. There are other people worse off than me.’ He always looks at the positive side.”