"It's All About The Game"

The Long siblings are striving with Stink






Ron Bailey, Publisher

Brother and sister are getting it done.

May 11, 2014 - One day in April, the Seat Pleasant Recreation Center was filled with kids playing basketball, adults working out. The scene is a common one at the facility, known as the basketball birthplace of NBA MVP Kevin Durant, and other performers.

Also there was another fixture of Seat Pleasant Rec, Taras "Stink" Brown, the man who taught Durant how to play, schooled him in the skills of the game. A pair of high school-aged siblings were also in attendance, as they often are.

Enter Alex and Alexys Long.

Alexys Long driving against brother Alex.

Alex, a recent graduate of Riverdale Baptist (MD) and Alexis, the rising senior guard at Largo (MD) were putting in work. The guy who has taught them the game, Brown, is proud of their development.

"When I first got him, couldn't jump, didn't have form" said Brown of Alex. "But he continued to come around, continued to work. We started to work on big man skills at first".

Weighing around 200 pounds at 6'8", Alex shared designs on playing "The three (small forward)" in college, but according to Stink before this year coaches asked him "to play out of position", being more of a power forward or center. Alex to his credit isn't resistant to playing power forward, but said "I just want to have the skill set" to play small forward.

He's worked hard to expand his jump shot and ball handling, with basketball IQ also being stressed. That focus will continue next year in prep school, with strength development being another component of Alex's development plan.

Presently the likes of Delaware, Morgan State, Longwood, George Mason, Towson, VCU, Cincinnati and Xavier have expressed interest, with the first and the last five schools having been visited. Capping his high school career was a birth in the Capital Classic's headliner game.

Alexys on the other hand, as always been a guard. One that can put the ball in the hole.

"She's coming along well. With her she could always play" said Stink. "Right now, she just needs athleticism..the skills of the game she has that".

The 5'10" combo guard said of her scoring ability "I think it's come along over the past year, because I've been put in a couple of roles where I had to step up and be a leader...facilitate and score and balance everything out".

Those responsibilities are demanded of Alexys by Largo, though she doesn't believe they are overwhelming, as "I think our team is well balanced".

Norfolk State has offered Alexys, a three year starter at Largo. She hopes to visit that MEAC school soon. In terms of generating more interest, the soft spoken guard agrees with Brown, understanding the need to improvement " My athleticism, definitely, speed, things like that" along with ball handling and court awareness were what she stressed.

The pair certainly respects what Brown has done for them.

"I don't think I would be as advanced as I am now...He's taught me the fundamentals, moves, getting my body together and got me in condition" said Alex, who has been playing competitively since eighth grade. Additionally the young guy noted "To me he's more than just a trainer...He's helping me through life".

Alex 'Goggles' Long patting against syster Alexys.

Alexys felt similarly, opining Stink has "definitely helped a lot. He pushes me and when I think I can't go any farther, he makes me go farther...he gives good advice". For the record, she's played in a competitive manner since 11 years old.

The Long siblings aren't the only ones happy, as Brown admitted it's been a treat working with them as well, since "They are well mannered. The listen. They want to get better". He extended that praise, saying of the kid's parents, Jasper and Shelley Long, "The family as a whole is a good family".

In typical sister and brother fashion, the Long tandem also plays with and against one another: In head to head matchups, Alexys holds her own, leading Alex to admit "I'd have to say her" when asked who was the better offensive player. Competing with boys has advanced Alexys' game. The pair also joins forces to battle players in two on two, ala Reggie and Cheryl Miller, with frequent success.

When talking to Alex and Alexys, one thing is apparent - they are close. Frequently they finish each other's sentences, and clearly enjoy picking with each other. Stink noted of their relationship "He seems to really take a big brother mentality" , laughingly adding "keeping "the guys away from her too. "They're very supportive of one another".

Goes to show what happens when young people have others to care about them, and are concerned with more than themselves. They strive.

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