Every year before the season would start, Coach would gather us

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1 SCOUTING REPORT Big Dreams Every year before the season would start, Coach would gather us all in a huddle. With a basketball in his right hand, he would say, Fellas, enjoy going to the gym... enjoy working hard... enjoy all there is to enjoy about the game we love because one day no matter who you are no matter how many points you score or how good of a career you have... one day, the ball will stop bouncing. With chills running down my arms, I would watch each time as Coach would drop the basketball he was holding it would bounce three or four times. Then, in a quiet moment, my teammates and I would stare at the ball now resting on the ground.

2 Walk-on, n. someone who plays a sport in college without an athletic scholarship.

3 1 Fighting for Something Greater than Self My name really isn t all that important. Buddy will do that s what they called me: Buddy, you re better than that. Buddy, go rebound for those guys. Y all take Buddy on your team. I was Buddy. I was #20,a 6 2, 175-pound shooting guard from Memphis, Tennessee. During my collegiate career, I averaged 7 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists per year. In 120 games, I played only 59 minutes. Above the rim meant nothing to me. I was a walk-on. I never got a scholarship to play Division One basketball, so I didn t know what it was like to answer questions at a press conference. I didn t know what it was like to hit a gamewinning shot. And I didn t know what it was like to be hounded by little kids for autographs. The reality of the matter is I was the guy who loved the game; the teammate who went crazy on the bench; and the one player you looked at from the stands and said, I can take him! When I checked into the game, the fans knew it was time to get a head start to the car to beat the traffic. And yes, I

4 4 Teammates Matter. was the one player on my team that couldn t dunk; occasionally I slapped the backboard on the way in for a lay-up. I know you ve seen the portrayal of major college sports from plenty of stars, but let me give you a different look a perspective where playing time and glamour are minimal. I ve played for two highly respected coaches and been to four NCAA Tournaments. You ve probably never seen me on ESPN, but you ve also never heard my story nor the story of big time hoops from the angle of the one player on the team who sees everything the walk-on. Some of my statistics only I know. I went in warm-ups against Kansas, but if you go to the record books, you won t find any documentation of that feat. Thankfully, my experience at Wake Forest went beyond mere numbers. For that reason, the destination of this story is not a heroic moment where I was carried off the court to thousands of screaming fans. Had this been the case, it might suggest that only an outcome leading to 15 seconds of fame could somehow make all my hard work and sacrifice worthwhile that would be an injustice to what I consider to be the true success of any story. The roller coaster journey of being a walk-on was one of the most rewarding, yet humbling, experiences of my life. Even though I was a part of one of the most celebrated basketball conferences in the country, unavoidable challenges came along with being a walk-on. I know not everyone is an athlete, but I believe that we ve all had times in our lives when we feel like we re sitting on the end of the bench whatever our bench happened to be. Now, don t count me out if you happen to feel like the star or if your role on your team doesn t coincide with the sentiments I ve expressed in these first few pages. I ve played with, roomed with, and carefully observed plenty of stars whose impact on my life will be worth noting whether you re the starter, the sixth man, or the practice player. In high school, I still remember what it was

5 Fighting for Something greater than self 5 like to feel like the star and score all of the points, but as it turns out, my faith and my ability to confront adversity were put to the test more frequently when my seat on the bench was farthest from the coach. I recognize that if the point of this book hinges on me sitting on the end of the bench then there would be no reason to keep reading because any successful team cannot afford to have players who just sit on the sidelines our ACC Championship team was no exception. There was no room for any player one through fifteen who did not contribute and find value in his role. At one point during my career, a reporter approached me from the Greensboro News and Record. He was writing an article that focused on walk-ons in the ACC. He asked me, Alan, you hardly ever played, you hardly ever scored why did you fight so hard to be on this team? Keep in mind, I had never been interviewed by the media in college. While my answers to these questions may have satisfied the reporter and led to decent quotes in the next day s morning paper, I remained perplexed and unsatisfied with my responses. Why did I fight so hard to be a part of this team? Why was it worth it? And what made it successful? The deepest corners of my heart needed to know. My junior year, we had just beaten North Carolina at Chapel Hill and were traveling westbound on Interstate 40 back to Winston- Salem. Everyone had fallen asleep at the back of the bus that night, but me. Quietly, I flipped to an old notebook, found an empty page, and began to write. These are my thoughts.

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