INDIANAPOLIS – It got replayed so many times that by the end of the year he was sick of talking about it.
The catch, the high-rise, the shot, the swish, the celebration.
Indiana’s Christian Watford’s three-seconds between the reception of the pass from Verdell Jones III and his make of a three-pointer to beat top-ranked Kentucky in December of 2011 made him a household name just as quickly. From commentaries to commercials and even ESPN’s “Espy” award came Watford’s way once the ball hit the nylon at Assembly Hall.
Fast forward a year later, and a nearly similar set of circumstances unfolded again-only this time it’s another getting fame at the expense of the Hoosiers.
It wasn’t as artistic as the shot Watford hit nor did it officially end the game at that moment. But nevertheless its five fleeting seconds from one Butler guard that now has put this walk-on at the forefront of college basketball.
“It’s been pretty crazy,” admits Bulldogs’ sophomore Alex Barlow in the hours following his floater that helped Butler beat No. 1 Indiana Saturday afternoon at the Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
On the floor with the score tied at 86, Barlow dribbled into the lane looking to kick it out to another teammate but could find no one. With time ticking down, Barlow made his more to the right and floated the ball up to the rim, where it bounced a few times before dropping in with just over two seconds remaining. Butler’s defense held off the Hoosiers on a last second shot attempt to preserve the moment-and vault Barlow into almost instant stardom.
“I went out to dinner with him Saturday night at Applebee’s and we we’re messing with him. He was getting a bunch of phone calls and tweets and texts,” said teammate Rotnei Clarke. “We were telling him he was too big time to hang out with us now.”
Not that Barlow carried himself with that attitude.
“I’ve just tried to stay humble,” said Barlow simply when asked how he’s handled the attention of the last few days. “I just thank everybody for all their support.”
Humility can come easily for Barlow, who is not even a scholarship player. He joined the Bulldogs in 2011 as a preferred walk-on from Moeller High School in Cincinnati having been as much a standout in the sport of baseball as he was basketball.
“It was my first love,” said Barlow of basketball. “I’ve wanted to become a college basketball coach since I was little. I met with my high school coach and he thought the best route to get into coaching was to walk-on D-I.”
A visit to Butler and a meeting with Brad Stevens got him the opportunity to get a spot on the Bulldogs roster. He played in 16 games but saw plenty of time during Butler’s run in the CBI tournament as he averaged 20 minutes a contest. Time increased as the 2012-2013 season began as he cracked the starting lineup three times in Butler’s first ten games, including Saturday’s contest with Indiana.
The floater that won the game capped off Barlow’s highest point total of his Butler career at six-using a move he worked on constantly at practice to make himself a name in college basketball.
“He deserves it,” said Clarke of the notoriety Barlow has received. “He’s in there in the gym working every night and he’s working on shots like he hit every night, so I wasn’t surprised to see it go in. Couldn’t happen to a better person.”
So what happens from here? According to Stevens that depends on Barlow, whom he classified along with Clarke and Kellen Dunham as players who are constantly working out past practice times.
“I told him this could go both ways. With a guy who is not humble enough to handle it this can be a problem, but you are. Just keep doing your job and being who you are,” said Stevens on the advice he gave to Barlow after the game-winner. “Don’t let this change you, because that’s not how you got here.”
The humble Barlow doesn’t plan on letting that happen.
“It’s pretty crazy beating the No. 1 team in the country but as Coach Stevens tells us, he believes we can beat any team in the country but he also believes if we don’t play well we can lose to anybody in the country,” said Barlow. “That’s kinda how it is so were just excited play a pretty good game and fortunate to come out with the win.”
Along with a moment subject to fame and replay.