On her way to the top

Published 11:59 pm Friday, June 19, 2009

Having the chance to play basketball in Georgia for a legendary coach has paid off for former Andalusia basketball player Blanche Alverson, who signed a full athletic scholarship to Auburn University in May.

Alverson moved to Buford, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, two years ago after her sophomore year at AHS and right away was shooting hoops and gaining the experience needed to get that scholarship.

While at Buford, Alverson helped lead her team to the AA state championship, was named the Georgia 2A player of the year, selected on the Georgia North-South All-Star team, was named the Gwinnett (Ga.) Daily Post player of the year and was named the Gainesville (Ga.) Times player of the year and Region 6A player of the year.

In a telephone interview with Alverson, who is getting ready to move to Auburn next week, she said her time in Buford was “unbelievable.”

“We won state last year and not many people can say that they won their last high school basketball game to go out on top,” she said. “I mean that was unbelievable. The kind of season we had last year was amazing.”

Alverson said moving to Georgia two years ago for her was the best thing for her basketball career.

“The coach I played for these last two years was unbelievable,” Alverson said. “Gene Durden was his name. This is his first state championship to win, but he’s played in final fours and made it way into the tournament a lot. He’s a fundamental coach and I do believe it was one of the best things for me.”

She said she would not have gained the experience necessary if she had stayed and completed her last two years at AHS.

“I don’t think I would’ve gained the experience (in Andalusia) from playing in Georgia,” she said. “There is so much basketball that I played (in Buford) from just being around the area. The week I moved I played more basketball than I did in my life.

“I think we played 60 games in June. I just played a lot of basketball and I think that helped me gain the experience I needed for college.”

Ironically, Alverson started playing basketball when she was 6 years old in the Johnson Park basketball gym.

On why she chose basketball over other sports, Alverson said what made it appealing was the “team” aspect of it.

“You’re on the court with nine other people and there are four other people on the team and you are trying to compete,” she said. “There is not much contact in other girls’ sports. I think that was it generally.”

In addition to Auburn, Alverson considered attending Louisville, Miami (Fla.), Vanderbilt, Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, Penn State and Arkansas.

She said she chose Auburn because it was the school she always wanted to attend. She will play for coach Nell Fortner, and the Lady Tigers were 30-4 last year.

“I think that I compared everything back to Auburn,” Alverson said. “Auburn has the basketball that I wanted and the kind of coach I wanted to play for. Auburn also has the social aspect some of the other schools don’t have.

“I want to have basketball friends, but I want to have other friends, too. Everything was always compared to Auburn.”

Alverson is majoring in medicine and will report to Auburn next Tuesday, with class beginning on June 29.

She is the daughter of Bill Alverson of Andalusia and Cindy Alverson of Buford. She also is the sister of William, who is a senior at Auburn, and Stella, who is entering the fourth grade in elementary school.