MONMOUTH — From the moment he finished his senior season at Western Oregon in 2016, Devon Alexander has had his sight set on playing professional basketball — no matter where in the world it would take him.
He’ll get his chance later this month in Canada.
Alexander is headed across the border to start training camp on Dec. 27 after signing with the Vancouver Knights, part of the North American Premier Basketball league.
“All 17 years of playing basketball was supposed to be towards this,” he said. “The fact that it’s finally happening is amazing.”
It’s been far from easy.
When Alexander started this process, he was realistic, but hopeful.
He took part in numerous camps and combines in the U.S., Germany and Canada, kept up on his personal training and patiently waited for his opportunity.
It appeared he was beginning to gather serious interest to play overseas, Alexander said, when a left wrist injury last fall put his playing future in question.
There were positives. Alexander earned his bachelor’s degree, began working for a sports marketing company and started training young basketball players.
But Alexander began to wonder if his playing days were over.
“Doubt creeps into your mind,” Alexander said. “You’re out for two months, you get out of shape quick and you start to question whether it’s worth it to keep going.”
The commissioner of the NAPB, which has eight teams, invited Devon to a combine in September.
By this point, Alexander had established himself with a client base that he enjoyed training.
Ultimately, the allure of chasing his dream one more time was too much to ignore.
“For a minute, I didn’t know if I wanted to step away,” Alexander said. “I love training kids, but I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do fully yet. I figured I’ve still got some wheels on me, I might as well go.”
It turned out to be a fruitful trip. Upon the completion of the combine, Alexander received multiple offers, including Vancouver and Seattle.
Alexander ultimately signed with Vancouver.
His success was the result of a more focused training regiment, Alexander said.
Instead of training for the sake of training, each day had a specific goal.
“It’s about knowing what to do each day to get that half a percent better,” Alexander said. “That’s huge. This process is a marathon. You have to take each day and not go backwards. It’s like I tell my kids, you don’t have to be Kyrie Irving now, but you can build up to it. That goal might seem impossible now, but the older you get, the more mature you get, you’ll see how that hard work pays off.”
Now, he’s more driven than ever to make the most of his opportunity.
“I failed once,” Alexander said. “It was hard at the time, but ultimately, I think it was the best thing for me. I was able to finish my degree. I’m not the same player I was a year ago. I don’t defer as much as I used to. I’m an all-around more complete guard, and I’m a lot more mature as a person.”
From his family to his friends to the kids he trains, Alexander is ready to give it his all to show those closest to him it’s worth it to keep chasing your dreams.
“Honestly, this is more for the people who have supported me to make them proud,” Alexander said.
Alexander’s path to playing professional basketball wasn’t as quick or as smooth as he hoped, but that hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm.
“It’s been a long road, but we’re here now,” Alexander said. “It’s time. I’m ready.”