daydreaming. He’ll contemplate his basketball future if he was about
6-foot-5. And he’ll smile knowingly. The Painesville Riverside guard is a mere 5-11 and headed to Akron on a basketball ride. A four-year starter and the most
prolific scorer in Riverside history, Sullivan averages 27.1 points a game. He needs just 41 points to reach
2,000 for his career.
And he’ll smile knowingly.
The Painesville Riverside guard is a mere 5-11 and still talented enough to land a Division I scholarship to the University of Akron. One can only speculate what prestigious programs he could have attracted had fate made him taller.
Sullivan still stands out in a crowd on the court. He is among the top scorers in Ohio at 27.1 points a game. A four-year starter and the most prolific scorer in Riverside history, he needs just 41 points to reach 2,000 for his career. He is also averaging 6.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.4 steals a game.
The senior is the primary reason why the Beavers (17-4) landed a fourth seed behind Glenville, Mentor and St. Ignatius in the rugged Division I sectional/district at Euclid. Riverside plays Premier Athletic Conference archrival Madison in a sectional final tonight.
Sullivan frustrates defenses with his versatility. Veteran Riverside coach Rob Winton is quite appreciative of his talent.
“He’s extremely good at taking the ball to the hole or pulling up and hitting jumpers,” Winton says. “It’s odd, though. We get a few box-and-one defenses thrown at us, but we also get a lot of man-to-man defenses with everyone in a loose man helping out against Alex. But the thing about Alex is that he’s also an outstanding defensive player against the other team’s point guard. He does a great job pressuring and trapping.”
Still, Sullivan sure wishes he could grow another six inches.
“I think about that a lot,” he says with a chuckle. “I wish I could be 6-5 or 6-6. My goal is to play professional basketball overseas.”
Sullivan started playing organized ball in fifth grade and quickly rose above the competition – at least in terms of talent. He displayed a natural shooting touch and quickness his fellow grade school players simply couldn’t match.
He soon began training with former Bowling Green standout Shane Kline-Ruminski, who enjoyed a stint playing in Europe and now runs the National Basketball Academy. Sullivan admits that the work has helped him immensely. He fosters a basketball relationship with Kline-Ruminski to this day.
Among the attributes Sullivan possesses is the ability to take over games down the stretch. He has been particularly adept at scoring when games remain close in the fourth quarter.
“The first half of the game I try to control the tempo and get my teammates involved,” he says. “I usually get most of my buckets in the second half. I try to make my teammates better and I know they make me better. I feel I’ve gotten bigger, stronger and quicker. I think my main attribute is my quickness. I have a very quick first step to the basket.”
If the Beavers slide by Madison, they will require Sullivan to remain on top of his game to maintain any hope of upsetting one or two of the top three seeds at Euclid. Glenville, Mentor and St. Ignatius boast vastly superior schedules and far more depth than Riverside. Sullivan just might need to carry the team on his back.
“I know that anything could happen,” he says. “We’ll try to adapt to the game our opponents play and (exploit) their weaknesses. If we play a bigger team, we’re going to have to box out, hustle and do all the little things it takes to win games.”
Though the Division I tournament remains foremost on Sullivan’s mind, his thoughts drift often to his athletic and academic future at the University of Akron. Sullivan, whose favorite subject is English, plans on studying sports management and entrepreneurship. He is also considering education, which would allow him to further a coaching career.
“I enjoy teaching the kids the game,” says Sullivan, who does just that in the summer. “I’ve had young kids come up and ask me to train them and that gives me a burst of confidence.”
So does scoring 27 points a game and leading his team to victory. If Sullivan can continue to do that against the beasts of Division I basketball, he’ll write the most impressive chapter to his legacy at Riverside High School.