Alex Etherington has never had any doubts about his decision to commit to Kansas State after taking an unofficial visit to Manhattan earlier this summer, but if he did they would have been put to rest during a recent phone call with associate head coach Chris Lowery.
Etherington, a 6-foot-5 small forward from Indiana and the first Wildcats commit for the class of 2013, asked Lowery what he wanted him to focus on during his senior year of high school.
“He wants me to worry about winning,” Etherington said in a phone interview. “He told me just to do whatever I can to help my team win and not be worried about putting up big numbers or being recruited. I’m going to Kansas State. I don’t have to worry about recruiting. I can just play.”
What a relief that must be.
After talking to coaches from Xavier, Boston College, New Mexico and St. John’s, Etherington now doesn’t receive calls from college coaches other than the ones he will play for next year. Other than the occasional recruiting letter he finds in his mail box, his recruitment process is over.
Well, almost. The final step will come when he returns to Manhattan on Sept. 14 for his official visit. He will tour campus with Canadian power forward Matt Atewe, who K-State assistant Chester Frazier is recruiting, and see things for the second time. But the trip will be different.
“I’m looking forward to going to a football game,” Etherington said. “When I was there, students weren’t on campus. I saw pretty much all the campus, the locker rooms, the new practice facility and all that. But it will be different with students around. I want to see the game-day atmosphere there. I’ve seen some pictures, so I am expecting it to be pretty fun.”
Etherington says he already feels like a part of the K-State family, and regularly talks to K-State coaches and players. He stays in contact with Omari Lawrence the most. But he doubts K-State students will recognize him at the North Texas game.
Basketball is his only sport, and he plays it year round. His father played at Butler and his older brother, Austin, plays for Indiana. The only time he has taken extended time off came at the end of his sophomore season, when he suffered a gruesome head injury. While going up for a breakaway dunk, he was pushed from behind and ended up in a hospital.
“I landed on my head and got a concussion,” Etherington said. “It was bad. I had a little bit of brain bleeding. It took five months or six months to get back. When I started playing again, everything was off and I didn’t feel normal. It took me another two or three months to get back to normal.”
Etherington thinks the toughness he showed in the aftermath of that injury, as well as his ability to get to the basket and finish, impressed K-State basketball coach Bruce Weber. He said Weber and Lowery recruited him harder than anyone else, and that played a major role in his early commitment.
Some wondered if he was interested in following his older brother to a nearby Big 10 school. But Etherington said he never seriously considered that possibility. After all, he can play against Austin anytime he wants at home. He says “I’m starting to get the best of him now,” by the way.
“I wanted to get away a little bit and do my own thing,” Etherington said.
He will do exactly that at K-State. Before he gets there, he will try to do what Lowery suggested and help his high school basketball team try to win a state championship.
But he does have one individual goal for the upcoming basketball season.
“I want to be more of a solid two guard when I get to college,” Etherington said. “Right now I’m a small forward and more of a slasher. I want to work on my ball-handling ability. I’m going to keep working at it and try to get better every day.”