By Alex Mudronja Q&A at Adidas Nations
Preface by Janx……
VIDEO: At All Costs documentary trailer. Worth a watch before you read this blog. An insight into the crazy world of AAU basketball of which Alex and his team were a big part of this past US Summer. They eventually succumb in the Adidas Summer Championships to a program featured in this documentary, the Compton Magic. (expletive, f-word, in this video)
When high level coaches in Australia and the United States see Alex play and ask me about Alex Mudronja the player I tell them his game speaks for itself. He is on a quite a few radars but that is expected when you have won a national U20 Championships as the starting point guard (as a bottomager - IE 1 yr younger than most of the other players), won a FIBA Oceania Gold medal for Australia, currently captain in the fabled Centre of Excellence program at the Australian Institute of Sport. More recently a very high level performance against America’s best prospects at Adidas Summer Championship in Las Vegas, then Adidas Nations in Houston.
VIDEO: Must watch video highlights of Alex. Helping his U20 State team, South Australia, win the 2017 U20 National Australian Championships in February 2017.
Excellent size at point. Elite out of pick and rolls, ability see all 4 team mates and 5 defenders on the floor, tough rebounder, elite decision maker, facilitator, ability to run a team at Point Guard. He is the kind of guy that may score, or he may get an assist, but he often assists the guy that gets the assist too.
What I prefer to talk to coaches about are the things they may not see when they see him play. His intangibles. You need to know Alex the man to understand what he truly brings to a program. Playing at grassroots level at Sturt Sabres, in South Australia, with guys like Isaac White (Stanford 2017 Commit), Lat Mayen (TCU 2017 Commit), Jacob Rigoni (Quinnipiac 2017 Commit), in a team with 4 other guys that played for Australia, plus some other success stories amongst his team mates, he was bought up in an environment that was demanding by virtue of who your team mates were. They were winners, they demanded the same from each other and being a “try-hard”, working hard, giving 110% and succeeding was cool, and it made you popular amongst your peers. And, Alex was very popular in our program.
When he played at U18 state level for South Australia in 2016 (in a team I coached), through injury, he missed a large part of our preparation. However, his team mates, including other top prospects, saw it fit to still vote him in as team captain. I tell coaches recruiting him about the time, during our team building, when he spoke to the group and it sent shivers down our spines, and even more in some cases some guys were seen wiping a tear from their eye. His team was ready to do anything for each other after Alex made a locker room or team planning session speech.
His phenomenal work ethic. The consistent 6 AM workouts, the late-night workouts, and the love for the game he has and how that impacts team mates, who just love him.
I tell coaches that if you want a proven winner, a guy with lots of upside to go (despite in my opinion already being one of the best 2018 prospects at PG in the world already), a high-values leader then Alex will give you that.
Coaches that have worked with Alex will invariably agree.
PICTURED: Alex was the starting Point Guard in his team's successful U20 National Championship campaign in February 2017. The first win for South Australia at Men's U20 level in 20+ years. This team included 6 www.highperformancehoopsnetwork.com featured athletes in amongst the 4 other talented athletes. Players in back row. Alex Mudronja (6'5'' PG, 2018 Prospect), Ben Carter (6'10'' PF, 2018 Prospect and Alex' team LivOn Team mate), Michael Harris (6'3'' Shooting Guard, 2017 Prospect), Harrison mills (6'5'' Wing, 2017 Commit, Northern Iowa Area Community College). Seated Ray Harding (6'6'' Wing, 2017 Commit, Northern Iowa Area Community College), Brent Hank (6'10'' Power Forward, 2017 Commit, University of Albany), Owen Hulland (6'11'' Stretch 4, 2018 prospect), Jacob Rigoni (6'6'' Wing, 2017 Commit, Quinnipiac University), Isaac White (6'1'' PG, 2017 Commit, Stanford), Harry Reemst (6'4'' PG, 2017 Commit , Lake Region State College).
U20 South Australian, National Championships, Gold Medal winning Coach Scott Whitmore on Alex,
“His playing ability is well documented so I won’t touch on that.
Going into under 20 nationals prep I had heard a lot about Alex but never had a chance to get to know him.
He has a very clear understanding of what his role was going to be and as a floor general ensured he was in every tactical conversation, asking questions the entire time so that he could deliver on the coaches’ expectations.
He truly bought into the philosophy that it was about the 10 players breaking a 20+ year drought for our State to win a U20 Men’s National Championship, and recognising that he could play a vital part in that happening.
You can have an intelligent basketball conversation with Alex and soon appreciate the fact that he has a knowledge beyond his age or experience. Never once did he talk badly about an opposition player or team mate. He never gets flustered and keeps calm under pressure.
He is very like Jacob Rigoni (2017 Quinnipiac Commit) in his preparation physically and mentally, he can have fun but when the game time approaches he is all business.
Alex is respected by all for a reason, his family should be proud of the person he is turning out to be, one of the down sides to not coaching the team again in 2018 is missing the opportunity to work him again.
If I’m a college coach, he is very high on the target list.”
PICTURED: Alex, a long, crafty scorer in the paint makes it look easy against high level opposition on his way to winning Gold for South Australia at the U20 National Championships.
Randy Livingston, leader of LivOn Basketball, and Adidas Nation's Asia Pacific Head Coach had these words to say about Alex, also sharing some insights on his current recruitment:
"Alex played great in both tournaments. I believe he saves his best performance when we need them most and versus the toughest competition. Which shows he is a competitor and winner. Uprising, I thought Alex as the tournament went on adjusted to the speed of the game and physicality. His leadership stands out. His best game was against the Boston Mass Rival team, which caught the eye of Utah Head Coach Larry Krystoviak and Providence Assistant Coach Brian Blaney. In this particular game , Alex showed his total game( finishing in the paint and hitting perimeter shots out to the 3pt line). In a losing effort in the Grand Finals at Adidas Nations, again Alex competed and showed tons of heart in the game.
Alex brings Leadership and a winning culture to any team but this was one display throughout both tournaments. Alex ability to run a team is as solid as any guard in both tournaments.
Alex can play at the highest of levels in Division 1 basketball. High major.As evident of Utah and Providence now recruiting him with a hoist of others."
PICTURED: Randy Livingston speaks highly of Alex. Randy should know. With NBA playing experience, LSU student-athlete graduate. He has also had Division 1 College coaching experience, NBA D-League, led teams to a number of Adidas Nations tournaments and coached elite Aussie youth teams.
I hope you enjoy reading on his recent experience at Adidas Summer Championships, and Nations, with Team LivOn.
NB: for more information on Randy Livingston the leader of LivOn and these tournaments from Randy’s perspective you could also read the Q & A Randy recently did for us;
Over to Alex……
VIDEO: Highlight on Alex actually extracted from Zion Williamson's highlights from the Adidas Nations Championship game. Alex was actually heavily featured in Zion's highlights so we grabbed some of those.
How did you get involved with Randy Livingston and Team LivOn/Asia Pacific?
Firstly, I would like to thank Randy. He did an incredible job with this team in putting it together and giving us the confidence we needed to be able to play against some of the best young competitors in the world. Randy put us in a great position to succeed in the last two weeks, while also making all of us better players and better people. Personally, I have learned a lot from him and the other coaching staff during the tournaments so I cannot thank them enough.
I was first introduced to Randy after an U18 National tournament where I had been told that he wanted me to play for Team LivOn in Las Vegas and then represent Team Asia Pacific at Adidas Nations. I had heard of the event and of course had heard of Randy due to his playing career, so the idea of playing for him in such a prestigious event like Adidas Nations was very exciting and overwhelming. Over the past two weeks that I was able to have Randy as a coach, I took it upon myself to take in everything he taught me to help me become a better player and I think I have come home with a lot more knowledge about the game then I had before I left for the US. Thank you again to Randy, and our other coaches, Willie, Tim and Shane.
Tell us about your past few weeks?
PICTURED: Alex has length and solid athleticism to play above the rim as a Point Guard.
In the weeks leading up to the trip to America, I was still unsure if I wanted to go. I am in a great position playing for the Centre of Excellence (CoE) at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra and I am obsessed with getting better. So I wasn’t sure which I would benefit from most, staying in Australia and continuing to work hard every day, or going to America and participating in these tournaments. After a process of deciding what was going to be best for me in the next two weeks, I figured that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play against some of the best players in the world in such a competitive environment, so I chose to go to America, and I am definitely glad I did.
It was a busy few weeks, even more so than normal. The CoE team I play in flew out to Melbourne to play a double header road trip against Sandringham Sabres on July 22 and then Melbourne Tigers on July 23. I then got on a plane with my CoE team mate Sam Froling to head off to Las Vegas on July 24. We played 8 games from 26-29 July in Las Vegas at the Adidas Summer Championships. We then headed to Adidas Nations Houston 2-6 August for 6 games.
I had a great time on and off of court with some great people and great players and I am happy to say that I have formed some relationships over the past two weeks that I will cherish for life. My goal for the two weeks while I was in America was to win. It was overwhelming playing in front of so many college coaches in Las Vegas as it is something that I have never done before, so I figured that I would try to achieve what I attempt to do at every tournament I play in, and that was to win it all. Doing this made it easy to play basketball in front of these coaches because I wasn’t worried about my own accolades or plays on the court, I was fully focused on doing anything I could to get my team the win.
We ended up getting knocked out by Compton Magic in the Semifinals of the Summer Championships on a questionable foul call by the ref which put them on the line on the buzzer (I won’t say whether it was a foul or not but it was definitely controversial). And we finished Adidas Nations in second place after losing to USA Class of 2018 in the Grand Final. These two results are the highest that both Team LivOn and Team Asia Pacific have ever finished so credit to the coaches and to my teammates for playing together and accomplishing these results.
PICTURED: Courtesy of LivOn Basketball. Team Asia Pacific at Adidas Nations. A team featuring some great prospects such as Ben Carter (6'10'' PF, Class of 2018), Sam Froling, Kody Stattman, Matur Maker, Jack Stanwix.
Is this your first international playing experience?
This is my second international playing experience but my first in 2 years. The only other time I have left the country to play basketball is when I represented Australia playing in the Oceania Qualifiers in New Zealand in 2015. I am very thankful to have had this opportunity and it has given me more of an idea of some of the talent overseas as I haven’t seen much outside of Australia. I would also like to thank Adidas and all the people that took their time to prepare both events. The gear that we received and the place that we stayed in Houston for Nations was incredible, it made the experience much more overwhelming, but I feel that it was just a bonus to being able to play basketball in this environment.
PICTURED: Australian National U16 team 2015. Alex competed previously overseas for our U16 National Team in the FIBA Oceania Championships, winning Gold.
What did you enjoy most about this experience?
It is hard to define a singular moment that I enjoyed the most. It was all such a new experience for me that I enjoyed it all immensely. The game that I will never forget though is the grand final of Adidas Nations. I have never played in front of a crowd like that. I have played against some big crowds a few times in my life, but not one with that much energy and excitement. It seemed like they were on the edges of their seats all game waiting for a highlight play. And when there was a highlight, there was a lot of noise. It made me feel a lot bigger than usual and made me very hyped for the game. I can only imagine what it would be like to play in the pros.
What were your main roles in Team LivOn/ Asia Pacific?
We were all there to play basketball, we weren’t necessarily given roles as we came into the team, although I think everyone has a role on every team and we were going to find our roles the more we played together. I quickly found out that on this team, it was going to be my role to be the leader. We had just met each other a few days before the start of the first tournament, so it was very hard to play together for the first few games. As the Point Guard on the team and a player that had the ball in his hands a lot, I needed to be able to lead the team, which I believe is one of my strengths in basketball. It is very easy to lead a team though when the players get along with each other so well. Coming from different places in the world, it was unforeseeable how well our team would get along and play together. But in this team, I believe that we enjoyed each other's company and liked being around each other so much, that it translated onto the court where the more time we were able to spend together, the more we were able to play together and play good team basketball. There is also a lot of work that is done by a good leader off of the court, but my teammates made this all so easy to do, so I would like to thank them.
Who were some of the main names you competed against?
Janx can you jump in here please.......
Ok Alex, I guess this is what they call in the business "a handball"?!?!
So I followed Alex (and Ben Carter for that matter) progress a lot as did his folks, Natalie and Danny. We were looking up players he was going up against and some of the guys were in the best prospects in America for 2018 and 2019. As the team got deeper in the Adidas Summer Championships, the teams got better in terms of player rankings. One of the coaches I speak to from a high major program in the AAC commented that Compton Magic, who Alex' team did succumb to in the final 4 of Adidas Summer Championships, by 2 pts, was the best AAU team on the West Coast of America. The documentary "At All Costs" features Compton Magic, see trailer at the start of this blog.
So I thought to paint a picture I would list a few players in Team USA 2018 Alex played against and the results of those games at Adidas Nations to get a feel for the level. Then further down I've listed one of the final games at Adidas Summer Championships, vs Mass Rivals Gold.
At Adidas Nations:
Game 1 Vs Team USA Red 2018:
Alex with 12 pts and 6 rebounds in 26 mins. Almost caused a huge upset with very close margin in the 4th quarter.
Game 2, Championship game Vs Team USA Red 2018:
Alex with 12 pts, 5 assists, 5 rebounds in 32 mins.
USA Red 2018 included
Zion Williamson - one of the most hyped players in America ranked 2nd in the class of 2018. Potentially heading to Kentucky, Kansas.
Romeo Langford - Number 1 shooting guard in America currently predicted to go to Louisville or Indiana.
Immanuel Quickley - Number 3 PG in America, predicted to go to Kentucky.
EJ Montgomery - Number 7 PF in America, committed to Auburn.
Jordan Brown - Number 2 PF in America, predicted to go to Cal Berkeley or UCLA
All other players in this team are considered high level Division 1 prospects.
At Summer Championships:
Alex with 16 pts, 7 rebounds and 4 assists
David Duke - Number 5 combo guard in USA expected to commit to Providence.
Andre Reeves - Number 6 shooting guard in USA. Committed to Providence.
Wildens Leveque - Currently recruited by Rutgers.
All information obtained for 247sports.com
How does playing in Adidas Summer Championships and Nations compare to playing in the SEABL (back home)?
Going into the Summer Championships in Las Vegas as a foreign team with great size and length, it was obvious that we weren’t going to be liked by the other teams. We got hacked. A lot. I haven’t gotten so many scratches and bruises in such a short amount of time ever. These also came with the occasional rolled ankle, so it made for a very tough week. Aside from this, we played a lot of basketball in a short amount of time so general soreness was also factor, and we had to adjust to the different rules of AAU. But after all, it’s just basketball, and it’s what we all love to do, so we weren’t going to let this get to us. I am very proud of my teammates for playing through all of this and keeping a great attitude throughout both weeks.
Also, I saw some of the craziest athletes I have ever seen in my life. I have never played against such athleticism and length so it was a very different environment for me. In SEABL, we play in a very good league against players with great experience and great strength, but it was a very different environment to play in in America, although I think our team adjusted well and were able to play our style of basketball.
For myself, being situated at the CoE prepared me very well for this because I train in such a competitive environment every day. We have incredible players and coaches, so I would like to thank them.
You got to play with your long time Sturt Sabres teammate and friend Ben Carter, what was that like?
Awesome, I always love to see former Sabres, after playing in the same team as someone, I feel that I have made a connection with them on the court which is stronger than friendship, somehow. But it is always good to see Big Benny, we have been friends for a long time. And it was great to spend time with him and my other teammates off of the court.
PICTURED: Alex cutting down the net after winning the 2015 U18 South Australian State Championships where he played in maybe, arguably one of the greatest U18 club teams in the recent history of Australian basketball. Pictured here he is on the shoulders of Ben Carter, who also played in Team LivOn/Asia Pacific at Adidas Summer Championships and Adidas Nations.
Were you in the gym when Zion Williamson’s team played Big Ballers and have any insights into the craziness that went on in the gym and outside the gym? NBA players and D1 College coaches not being allowed in???
We were one of the teams that couldn’t get in, I can only imagine the hype inside the gym. With the amount of social media in the world today, it makes it possible for these games to happen. It is pretty amazing.
What do you look for in a college program?
The biggest thing for me, is I want to go to a place where I know I will have the opportunity to get better. I am always trying to get better as a player and as a person and ultimately I will make my decision on this aspect. A lot of people ask the question of: “Don’t you want to go to a place where you know you will play?” But this is not a priority for me. I feel that playing time will come if you are working hard at practice and behind the scenes, and after all, I am playing and competing every day at practice anyway. After competing against some of the best prospects in the USA in the past 3 weeks I am very confident I can compete, do well and help my team win at any level. There is also a lot that comes into making a decision on colleges, and I will lean on my family and coaches that I trust to make my decision, but at the moment, I am just soaking it all in and focusing on what is ahead of me in the near future.
What are the next steps for you?
I plan on going to college next year, but after that, I can’t really say, I don’t know. All I know is that I will be playing basketball, hopefully at the highest level, but it is what I love to do most in life, so as long as I can play or be involved in the game, that is my plan for the future. Right now, I am just focused on getting better and having fun, I feel the rest will come if I keep playing the game the right way. Overall, I would like to thank everyone that has been a part of my last two weeks in the states. I enjoyed my time there a lot. And I would like to thank everyone that has been a part of my life to this point, just because. Thank you. And shoutout to my new friend Randy Livingston Jr. #jellyfamjr
PICTURED: Gimme that!!