All of a sudden, Alex Majewski is as popular as Facebook. Is he Justin Bieber with a jump shot? Have there been Alex sightings at Spiaggia or Gibson's or White Castle? Will he star in his own reality show?
Brother Rice's 6-foot-7 senior has made a big impression on the Chicago high school basketball scene in recent weeks. He is one of the most celebrated students the Southwest Side school has produced since internationally acclaimed Irish dancer Michael Flatley and its most talented athlete since Bobby Frasor.
Is it because the Crusaders are 20-5 after last Tuesday's 43-34 victory over St. Ignatius, their best showing since the 26-5 team went to the Elite Eight in 2005? Or is it because he scored 29 points in a last-second, two-point loss to highly rated Marian Catholic with Michigan State coach Tom Izzo in the house?
Whatever the reason, Majewski hopes he can parlay the late-season attention into a Division I scholarship. He has offers from Chicago State and Texas Pan-American and is attracting interest from Colgate, Brown, South Dakota State and two Division II schools, Minnesota State and Texas A&M-Kingsville. Dozens of Division III schools from Illinois Wesleyan to Wisconsin-Oshkosh also are targeting him.
"It is frustrating," he said. "My dream has always been to play at the highest level of Division I that I can. I visited Texas Pan-American last week and liked it. I try not to let (the recruiting process) affect me.
You've got to control what you can control. I put in extra work, play as hard as I can, send out tapes and hope for the best."
Majewski has impressive credentials. On the floor, he is averaging 21 points per game, shooting 60 percent from all distances and 40 percent from beyond the three-point line. In the classroom, he has a 4.3 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale and scored 27 on his ACT.
"I won't get an offer from North Carolina," he said. "That is one of my favorite schools to watch. My dream was to go to the same school as Bobby Frasor, the best player ever to play at Brother Rice.
"I characterize myself as a scorer. My thing is I can miss 10 shots in a row but I won't put my head down. I will work for a wide-open shot. I never give up. I want to be a good leader for my team. When things go bad, I can settle things down and get us back on the right track."
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Victor Agapay, who coached Majewski last summer at the Chicago Bulls Training Academy, insists the youngster is definitely a Division I prospect. Check out his highlight tapes...when he scored 29 against Marian Catholic, 27 against Seton, 30 against St. Joseph, 24 against De La Salle.
"He has high potential when he puts on weight and strength," Agapay said. "He is long and lanky. He weighs only 185 pounds. But he is stronger than he looks. He has a high motor. He needs to put on weight. That is what is hindering his recruiting."
One college coach said: "He has a huge upside. He is tough and versatile and very competitive. He is a typical Catholic Leaguer."
Recruiting analysts Roy and Harv Schmidt of Illinois Prep Bulls-Eye reported: "He could be a low Division I player in the right system. He still needs strength. But he is long with good lift on his shot and he has improved his ball skills. He needs to get better defensively, which is what will eventually determine what college level he will play at."
Nobody acknowledges his shortcomings more than Majewski. He had a breakout season as a junior, averaging 16 points per game. Each year, he has worked to improve one or more aspects of his game from shooting to passing to rebounding to defense to ball-handling.
"He used to try to be a banger in sixth and seventh grade, when he could power over other kids. But he isn't big enough for that now. He learned he had to do other things," Agapay said. "He is so successful because he can go inside or outside."
Growing up, Majewski used to split time between baseball and basketball. His father played baseball and it was Alex's favorite sport, his first love. He began playing baseball in kindergarten, basketball in fourth grade. A die-hard White Sox fan, he wanted to be the next Magglio Ordonez or Paul Konerko.
As a freshman, he played first base and outfield. But he gave up baseball after his freshman year. He felt basketball was his future. As a freshman, he played on the sophomore team at 6-foot-3, then was promoted to the varsity. He always was one of the tallest students in his class and he never stopped growing. But he has a fast metabolism. Last summer, he put on 20 pounds just to get to 185.
He knows college coaches are looking for him to add weight and strength. His goal is to weigh 210 pounds as a college freshman. So he has dedicated his time to eating healthy and working out in the weight room. Lots of protein shakes, no fast food, no cheeseburgers.
"I'm not getting pushed around as much or getting the ball taken away from me. I'm a stronger player," Majewski said. "They say I'm a typical Catholic Leaguer. What does that mean? I'm gritty. I don't play weak. I play strong. I'm physical when I need to be. I won't back down no matter who I am playing against. I give everything I have on every play."
Majewski said his favorite player is Derrick Rose, but he compares his style of play to Luol Deng. "I like Rose's confidence. If he is struggling with his shooting, he doesn't get down on himself. He helps his team in other ways when he doesn't score," he said.
"But I compare myself to Deng. I can do a little of everything. He brings intensity to every game. He plays inside and outside. If a player is taller than I am, I can take him outside. If he is the same height or shorter, I can put my back to the basket and get position on him."
Majewski, who lives near Midway Airport, chose Brother Rice because his friends were going there. He attended summer camp in seventh and eighth grade and enjoyed himself. And he liked coach Pat Richardson, one of the most successful coaches in the Chicago area.
"I felt I would fit in well," he said.
Now the trick is to lead his team through the St. Rita regional and on to the Argo sectional. Brother Rice is seeded No. 4 behind Simeon, Whitney Young and Curie. But St. Rita awaits in the regional and the Crusaders lost to the Mustangs 79-57 on Feb. 12. In fact, after winning nine games in a row, they lost three of four before restoring order.
"We have a really good team," Majewski said. "But we struggled two weeks ago. We lost to De La Salle by two points and I missed a shot at the buzzer. But we are a tough team. I think we can come back."
And he hopes the college recruiters are watching. "My hard work is paying off. What will they see now? Strength and assertiveness. When we need a tough basket or rebound, I go get it," he said.