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Standing tall: Buford's Alverson head and shoulders above her peers

POSTED: June 30, 2008 5:00 a.m.
SARA GUEVARA | The Times/

Rising Buford High School senior Blanche Alverson, 17, has been playing basketball for nine years. Alverson has committed to playing for Auburn University.

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In a gym full of girls basketball players, she stands out — literally and figuratively.

Buford High rising senior Blanche Alverson is an anomaly in the girls prep game, a 6-foot-3-inch shooting guard.

“She’s got a unique skill set,” Lady Wolves coach Gene Durden said. “First of all, she’s big for a shooting guard, and she can shoot it from four feet behind the 3-point line. But her best qualities are her knowledge of the game and her passing ability.”

In Magic Johnson-like fashion, the Auburn commit is proving to be heads, and tails, above the competition.

According to ESPN Hoopgurlz 100, Alverson is the 46th best player in the nation, the ninth best at her position.

The one negative in her evaluation on the Hoopgurlz Web site: “At times she is too selfless.”

“I love to pass,” Alverson said. “If you can see the floor, if you can see someone running out, exploding out and giving it their all, then I need to try to hit that person.”

“We were just at camp and she (Alverson) grabbed it off a made free throw, took it out of bounds and hit one of our girls that was running down the court in full stride without being told to,” Durden said. “She is great at reading basketball and has a great understanding of the game.”

Alverson came to Buford from Andalusia, Ala., the spring before her junior year.

A member of the Peach State Elite Black since she was in the eighth grade, it made sense to move closer to the team’s home base in Suwanee. The Peach State Elite Black is a travel team ranked as one of the 20 best in the nation, according to Hoopgurlz.

“It was by chance that we found (Peach State Elite coach) Brandon Clay,” Alverson said. “But it’s been one of the best things for me.

“We were always in the area, always had practices up here,” she said. “It just made more sense to be up here permanently.”

With plenty of schools to choose from in the area, why did Alverson and her family choose Buford?

“Buford has a small-town feel which I like,” she said. “And when I met coach Durden I knew it was the right fit for me.”

“It’s all in his coaching style,” Alverson added. “He told me right off the bat that he knew I was a good player but wanted to make me better and that’s what I wanted to hear. I wanted to play for someone who would make me the best me.”

It took little time for Alverson to fit in with her new team.

“The girls were very welcoming,” she said. “They were so open, introduced themselves on the first day and showed me the lockeroom. They were nice and made me feel at home.”

“Anytime you take an older transfer you worry about them fitting in to a veteran group.“ Durden said. “We had a veteran team last year, but they all love Blanche. She came in and fit in perfectly.

“You know, she’s a great girl No. 1, besides being a great player, she’s a great young lady, and they’ve excepted her, and it’s been beneficial for both Blanche and our program.”

Outside of basketball, Alverson holds steady to an above-4.0 grade point average, and she’s ranked fifth in her class.

While stating that her athletic goals reach as far as being an All-American in college and, hopefully, one day being on the Olympic team, she is defiant in her desire to also go to medical school and become an orthopedic surgeon.

“I’ve broken a lot of bones and seeing the X-rays and hearing what they were going to do to fix it caught my interest,” she said. “It was devastating to break my foot but it helped give me a career path.”

Alverson, a 2007-08 Times All-Area first team selection, averaged 16 points and eight rebounds in her junior season.

It was also in that season that she matched up with a foe she will face for years to come, Wesleyan rising senior and University of Georgia signee Anne Marie Armstrong.

Armstrong, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution’s Miss Georgia Basketball for 2008, averaged 19 points, eight rebounds, 3.5 steals and 2.5 blocked shots this past season.

A season in which her team, a region nemesis of Buford, won the Class AA state title.

“It was a lot of fun to watch Anne Marie and Blanche go up against each other,” Durden said. “They were two highly recruited players and I think they brought out the best in one another.”

“To me it’s fun to go up against someone the caliber of Anne Marie,“ Alverson said.

"Throughout the year you face different kinds of players but to face someone that’s really good is fun. Tou have to get mentally ready and not worry about what she’s going to do but worry about what you’re going to do.”

Alverson, who before committing to Auburn had offers from Miami, Louisville and Arkansas, has her sights set on the goal that foe Armstrong accomplished in her senior season: a state title.

“Realistically, I want to win a state championship,“ Alverson said. “With eight seniors, that’s what we want to do, but if we don’t the season won’t be a failure. I think we’re going to have an amazing season because we jell.

“The bottom line is to play the best we can and know that we’ve given all we had and that way nothing is lost.”

Regardless of how the upcoming season turns out, it seems she will remain selfless.



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