2015 Luke Alexander Update

Belmont (MS) High school 8th grader Luke Alexander has already played on the highest stage a 14-year-old can, for the 14-U USA National Team this past summer. While that was a honor only 18 other 14-year-olds in the United States received this past summer, Luke is back at Belmont High School just trying to become an even better baseball player.

"Probably my hitting outside pitches has gotten better, taking it to the opposite field," said Luke, who plays shortstop and pitches for Belmont High. "And also my glove has gotten a little bit better. (The game) has gotten faster since I played junior high (last season), so I'm getting it out of my glover faster."

Luke is not just a baseball player; he's actually a three-sport athlete.

"I play quarterback in football," said the youngster. "I've been playing football since the seventh grade. I also play point guard on the basketball team."

And while he wants to excel in all three, baseball will be the one that he spends the most time on during the summer.

"I'll mainly be playing baseball in the summer and work out with football when I can," said Luke. "I'll be playing for the high school team during the (early portion of the) summer and then I'll play with the Dulins Dodgers."

He made that elite travel team this past summer. Obviously, a lot of pro scouts and college coaches will see him play for the Dulins Dodgers, but three college baseball coaches have already seen him and liked what they saw.

"Mississippi State and Ole Miss have shown interest in me, and LSU has showed a little bit," said Luke. "State is really serious and Ole Miss is just talking."

Of those three schools, one of the three has jumped to the top of his recruiting wish list.

"Mississippi State is my favorite school," said Luke. "I've liked them since I was a little kid and I have just always wanted to play ball there."

Although he is a fan of Mississippi State, another drawing card is their head coach, John Cohen.

"I love John Cohen. I love everything about him," said Luke.

Part of the reason why he likes Coach Cohen so much is his all-out intensity for the game and winning, something that Luke also has.

"I'm all out, 110% every time, a leader who gets my team ready for the game," said the talented youngster.

While he's all out in his approach to the game, there is also no doubt he has more than his share of talent, talent that his dad, Nick Alexander, saw early on.

"I noticed there was something special about him when he was 6-years-old," said Nick. "He played with a team out of Booneville and he was actually playing up two age groups. He was making plays, going in the hole at short. His fundamentals, hitting the ball and approaching the ball were good, probably similar to most good high school kids. He just wasn't as big and strong. I worked with him a lot hitting him ground balls but he just had God-given talent."

Nick gives credit to a former Alabama football great, John Mangum, for helping develop Luke as a baseball player.

"His travel ball coach was John Mangum, who played for Alabama in the late 80s," said Nick. "John got the best talent in Mississippi and Alabama and they started traveling. They went to Houston, Texas and Orlando, Florida. It was the best baseball. And (Luke) just kept playing travel baseball."

Playing for an elite travel team prepared Luke for the biggest challenge of his life, trying out for the 14-U United States National Team. Tens of thousands of kids tried out in some form or fashion but only 18 would be selected.

"When he started trying out for the USA (14-U) team and competing against everybody in the United States, that's when we really noticed (his talent)," said Nick. "Eighteen people out of the entire United States would make that team. That was something special (to make it)."

Luke was one of 40 players who made the next to last cut to try out for the final 18 spots for the 14-U team at the National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. July 13-17 of last summer.

While his mother went with him to the tryout, his dad had to stay back home due to work obligations. It was probably the most difficult day in his life until he received the phone call from Luke.

"It was probably (what it is) like waiting on the Major League Baseball draft," said Nick. "I didn't get to go because I had to work. I work at Northeast Community College. I was sitting at home and Luke called me. (And) you know Luke because you have talked to him several times; he's real quiet. He called me and told me that he made (the team). But he told me that he couldn't talk because his coaches didn't want them to show emotions."

Although Luke had to keep his emotions in, his dad didn't

"I will be honest, I hung up the phone and tears started flowing because I was excited," said Nick, who flew up to North Carolina the next day to be with his wife and son. "It took me about an hour or two to really calm down and understand the magnitude of what happened. As far as I know, Luke and (Petal High School) Anthony Alford are the only two kids from Mississippi who have ever made a team like that other than some college players."

That moment was just the first of several special moments to come.

"When we got to Nicaragua (to play in the COPABE Pan Am 'A' 14U Championships in Managua, Nicaragua, July 23-August 1) and they played that national anthem for the first time that brought tears to my eyes, too."

His next proud moment was seeing his son play for the United States team.

"He started at second base every single game and played the position well and hit the ball well," said Nick.

During the championship series, Luke batted .300 and had an on-base percentage of .563, fourth on the team among the regulars. He also stole three bases in three attempts and played error-less ball in the field.

Look for many more special moments in the baseball life of Luke Alexander.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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