KYLE BEERY | Staff Reporter
You’ve heard the story before. The one about the big star on the team who hits a game-winning shot.
But have you heard the story about the little-known walk-on who takes the same shot and knocks off the number one team in the nation?
Alex Barlow is a walk-on sophomore for the Butler men’s basketball team, and he did just that. On Dec. 15, 2012, Barlow drove toward the basket at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and hit a 6-foot floater in the lane with 2.4 seconds left.
Barlow’s shot took down formerly unbeaten and in-state powerhouse Indiana, securing his name in Butler basketball history. It was the first time the Bulldogs have ever beaten a top-ranked opponent in the regular season.
Barlow’s path to that shot was directed by his dream to one day become a basketball coach.
“You know, I just wanted to be a coach, a college coach,” Barlow said. “I’ve wanted to be that since I was in middle school.”
Barlow turned down many scholarship offers at Division II schools and decided to walk on at Butler to learn under one of the nation’s fastest-rising coaches, Brad Stevens.
“I feel like after looking at all my options, I felt like Butler was the best school for me,” Barlow said. “It just gave me the best chance to play, and Coach Stevens is a great coach and definitely somebody I want to learn under and learn what he knows.”
At Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, Barlow earned All-State honorable mention his senior year on the basketball team. He also earned second-team All-State honors as a shortstop on the baseball team.
Barlow followed in the footsteps of many great baseball players for the Crusaders, including Barry Larkin, Ken Griffey, Jr. and Buddy Bell.
Barlow, however, decided to switch his focus from baseball to basketball the summer before his senior year when he wasn’t receiving much attention from baseball scouts.
“I learned as Alex got older, he always had his own plan, and over time I learned to listen to him,” said Tom Barlow, Alex’s father. “When he said baseball wasn’t in his heart, I knew he meant it.”
Carl Kremer, his high school basketball coach, said Barlow came to him the spring after his senior season and told him he wanted to become a college basketball coach.
“I told him he would have to consider walking on at a Division I school,” Kremer said.
Kremer has known Stevens for a long time through basketball recruiting. Stevens recruited Mike Monserez, a 2004 Butler graduate, from Moeller.
Kremer directed Barlow toward Butler.
“There would be no better place than Butler,” Kremer told Barlow.
Kremer spoke with Stevens, who said he wanted Barlow on the team. From there, Barlow saw a small amount of playing time his freshman year.
But his minutes increased at last season’s conclusion during the College Basketball Invitational.
Barlow was put on scholarship this semester due to a unique opportunity. After Chrishawn Hopkins and Chris Harrison-Docks transferred, a scholarship became available and was given to Barlow. Barlow’s scholarship will be reviewed at the end of the semester, just like that of every other player.
The Moeller community had its eyes on the Butler-Indiana game, including Barlow’s baseball coach, Tim Held.
Held said he watched most of the game but didn’t see Barlow’s shot live because he was in church.
“My phone was going crazy in my pocket in church, so I knew something was up,” Held said. “I pulled out my phone after church, and that’s when I heard.
“I just felt so proud that he played in our baseball program.”
Kremer was finishing up a youth basketball clinic and saw the end alone in his office. He compared it to the championship scene in the movie “Hoosiers.”
“When Hickory wins the state championship and the character is alone in the hospital and jumping, that’s what I felt like,” Kremer said. “I was all alone in my office, and I jumped and started screaming.”
Kremer said it was one of the most dramatic things he had ever seen.
“I couldn’t be more proud of one of my players, ever,” Kremer said.
As for Barlow’s coaching career, Kremer sees nothing but success.
“I think he’ll be a natural coach,” Kremer said. “There’s a lot of time, and there’s still two-and-a-half years left, and I won’t be surprised if he becomes a graduate assistant somewhere and starts that long journey of a college basketball coaching career.”
Tom Barlow said he could tell Alex would be a coach from a very young age.
“You could tell when he was five or six years old,” Barlow said. “He was always instructing the other kids.”
Senior teammate Rotnei Clarke said he feels Barlow will be a good coach.
“He’s a smart guy, and he’s good with X’s and O’s,” Clarke said. “He knows the game really well, and he’s got a high basketball IQ.”
Freshman teammate Kellen Dunham said Barlow is serious when he needs to be, but he’s an overall goofy guy.
“He’s always trying to play jokes,” Dunham said. “He’s a scare-you-around-the-corner type of guy.”
Barlow has embraced his role as the underdog, Clarke said.
“He likes to think he’s Rudy from Notre Dame,” Clarke said.
Though the team likes to joke around, Dunham said Barlow is a model player and thinks he will be a successful coach.
“Alex is a really hard worker,” Dunham said. “And I look up to him in that aspect.”