The going has been rough and then some for the Seneca Valley High School boys basketball team this winter. It does not have a win in 14 tries (as of Monday), but the emergence of freshman Alex Choloh, who is averaging a double-digit points and rebounds, has been a breath of fresh air and a reason for future optimism for first-year Screaming Eagles coach Tony Harrison.
“He’s been a pleasant surprise,” Harrison said. “As a freshman coming in and playing varsity, you don’t know what to expect. What is probably most impressive is his ability on the basketball. He’s a great ball defender, and he plays well without the ball in his hands. He gets a lot of offensive rebounds. He is shooting for a high percentage because of that.”
Choloh has converted those extra offensive opportunities into a team-best 10.7 points per game through a Jan. 22 loss to Wheaton and more than 10 rebounds per game. The 6-foot forward scored 11 or more points in six-straight games from Dec. 17 through Jan. 8 with a high of 19 points in a 45-38 loss to Damascus on Jan. 4.
“Once he figures out he can put the ball on the ground and get to the basket, he’ll be very good,” Harrison said. “Right now, his game is getting offensive rebounds, layups and mid-range jump shots.”
While leading the team in scoring is nice, Choloh, who moved to Montgomery County from Georgia a year ago, takes even more pride in his defensive capabilities. Slotted as the team’s power forward on offense, Choloh has the ability and routinely does defend against point guards and shooting guards.
In fact, when asked what he enjoyed more — blocking a shot or making a basket — Choloh emphatically chose blocking a shot because “it feels good,” and “my goal is to be one of the best defenders out there.”
Harrison said, “He can basically guard anybody on defense, We use his defensive versatility and have him guard other team’s (guards).”
Like his squad, Choloh’s season has been filled with some uneven play — he’s producing just eight points per game in his past three contests — in what Harrison termed as hitting the freshman wall, but the coach is pleased with what he has seen so far.
“The best thing about him has been his work ethic in the games,” Harrison said. “He’ll run from basket to basket. He’ll block a shot on one end and score a layup on the other end. He is by far the hardest working player in the game and probably the most physical on our team.”