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January 19, 2014

Catching up with...Alex English

Without a doubt the most successful pro basketball player in South Carolina history, Alex English was an All-American at South Carolina (1975, 1976) who left as the school's leading scorer with 1,972 points (now No. 2 behind BJ McKie) and at the time he graduated was the only player in school history to play every game, score 1,000 points and snag 1,000 rebounds.

In the NBA with the Denver Nuggets, he was an All-Star from 1982-89, was the leading overall scorer of the 1980s in the NBA and set 31 Nuggets records. In 1997 he was enshrined in the Naismith Hall of Fame.

At the Carolina Basketball Legends Weekend, Gamecock Central caught up with the legendary (and soft-spoken) English to talk about his college career.

Gamecock Central: What does this Legends weekend mean to you?

Alex English: To see these guys that I haven't seen in decades and get to mingle with them is great, and in honor of one of the great basketball coaches of all time, it's been great fun.

GC: Do you see any similarities between Frank McGuire and Frank Martin?

English: They're both fiery. Coach (McGuire) wasn't as fiery as coach Martin, but their knowledge of the game is very similar.

GC: What are your memories from college that stand out when you look back at your career?

English: Just living the college life. Back then, that era when I played, we did a lot of different things. I remember there was streaking, there was the Civil Rights movement, a lot of big stuff going on during that period. Just to be a part of that, to look back and know that that was one of the most history-making periods in the history of this country was great.

GC: Do you think the players who go one-and-done in college basketball are losing out on something important they'll later regret?

English: I know they do. They miss out on the college experience, the lifelong friendships. I know they miss out on that. We didn't do that.

The whole wave of basketball is different now,. A lot of guys go to college to get to the NBA. Going to college to get a degree is like a thing of the past.

GC: What are your fondest playing memories? Any specific games stand out?

English: Really, it's the travel. When I played, we were out of the ACC and playing as an independent. We didn't just travel up and down the East Coast, coach McGuire took us all over the country. That was so much fun, and I learned a lot of things, a lot of things about the world.

GC: What opposing players did you most respect?

English: I remember Adrian Dantley and John Shumate of Notre Dame and Lloyd Walton from Marquette. Those were our big rivalries. And some of the guys who aren't even around anymore, Bill Campion from Manhattan and "Ticky" Burden from Canisius. There are so many storied names that came out of that era that didn't get to play in the NBA but were great college players.

GC: Thank you so much for your time.

English: It was a pleasure talking with you.



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