Gordon was named the Pensacola News-Journal's player of the year in boys' basketball, and received the equivalent award in football last December. He was named first-team All-State by the Florida Sports Writers Association, as well as the top player in the state in class 4A.
In this VandyMania exclusive, Pensacola coach David Williams talks about Gordon's recently completed senior year with the Tigers, and projects upon his future at Vanderbilt.
Coach David Williams: "I first came to know Alex Gordon about five or six years ago when his brother Anthony was a player here for me. Alex had a reputation of being a great basketball player even very early when he was little, playing in the city leagues. Everyone called him 'Red', I think because of his skin complexion-- he's light-skinned-- and that nickname has stuck with him.
"He's a kid who grew up around the gym, a gym rat, who just loves the game. I think he'd make a great coach some day-- he studies film like no other kid I've ever met. He's intrigued by the game. I think he's really excited by the college level and what he can do there. He's looking for the challenge. It's very rare that you get the talent and the hard work and the discipline all in one package. He's an overall great person on and off the court. He loves everything about the game.
"His greatest asset is probably going to be his ability to shoot the ball. He shoots the ball deeper than anybody I've seen, and he does it consistently.
"I've seen him make 25-foot shots, with ease. People might look at it as being unorthodox, unsound, but he's proven he can do it consistently. Uptempo, he's great in the open court. He's unselfish. And he can finish on big people, which is rare to see among small guards like him. Now, he hasn't seen people like he's going to see in the SEC, but I think he will make the adjustment.
"He's very explosive off the dribble. He also works hard at defense, and that's something we had to curtail a little bit this year, because he always wanted to have a tough assignment. We needed him in the game, and we needed him concentrating on the offensive end. But he doesn't shy away from the defensive end of the game. That showed up in the amount of steals he had per game, and the number of rebounds. He's only 6 feet, 6-1 if you stretch it a little bit, but he jumps extremely well for someone that size.
"There will be an adjustment period for him in college. The speed and the strength are definitely going to be something he hasn't seen on a regular basis. But throughout his AAU career, he's been able to play against guys like [Louisville signee, possible NBA draftee] Sebastian Telfair, [Memphis signee] Darius Washington, [Florida signee] Taurean Green and other guys like those. So he's coming in with his eyes wide open. I think he'll be an impact player, but whether that comes sooner or later depends on some variables there at Vanderbilt. In the Southeastern Conference not many freshmen come in and make an impact right away, but the ones who do, their future is pretty set.
"He played football, and was an outstanding quarterback here, but his best sport was probably baseball. He played baseball up until his tenth-grade year. A lot of people around town thought he could probably sign [with the major leagues] right out of high school. He's probably a far better baseball player than he is football or basketball, but that wasn't his love. He loves basketball, and likes the competitiveness of football. He likes being in the position to make decisions. He likes being the quarterback. He likes taking the big shot. He likes making the play. He hasn't played baseball the last two years though.
"Like any Division I athlete, he's got to improve on his articulation of situations. So many times he's probably been protected, because he comes from a one-child family after his brother passed away a few years ago. But he'll fit in well at Vanderbilt. He's a likable person, and coming to a place like Vanderbilt is only going to enhance him as a person and an adult. Vanderbilt has a reputation of putting out very good people. When Alex is challenged to do things, he usually meets that challenge and gives it all he has.
"It was just fun to sit back and watch Alex this past year. Sometimes you get so wrapped up in watching him, you forget you have to coach the game. Oh, man! He just had a natural instinct of knowing when to make a play, whether it was a pass or a big shot.
"We went down to Louisiana to play in a tournament. The first game, he got kind of down on himself. We played Reserve Christian, and they were pretty much ready for him-- they double-teamed him and ran some junk defenses at him. He struggled a little bit, and I saw it in his eyes. I knew the next night he was going to going to have a great night against New Orleans-Carver (the defending state champs). He did, and he set the tone.
"In the consolation-championship down at Lake Charles game we played Dallas-Lincoln, who won the national championship three or four years ago. Alex lit 'em up-- he probably had 25 points in the second half alone. Sometimes he would just take over a game.
"Several games he's had 40 or 42 points. I talk to my coaches and say, how do teams let him get that many shots off? If I were coaching, I'd do something. And they tell me, Coach, it's just hard for anybody to guard him one-on-one.
"Wherever we went this year, there was a crowd, because everybody wanted to see what Alex Gordon was going to do. We were entertaining. He was the main reason we went as far as we went. But the amazing thing is, he's so unselfish. We had some guys who could catch the lob, and Alex would throw it to them. You see he scored 27 points per game, and you think, man, he's taking a lot of shots! Noooo.... he averaged almost 6 assists per game too."