Updated: Jul 14, 2020
With COVID-19 causing the cancellation of major AAU circuits, players that would normally be primed for a considerable boost in their recruitment have not been able to show off their improvement in the typical high-talent settings. Yet, there were still some players who looked promising enough during their high school seasons to move up and bring in high-level offers. Alex Fudge was one of the highest risers amongst the 2021 group and with his combination of physical tools, athleticism and skill set, it appears this may just be the beginning of his ascent.
Standing 6’8” with a wingspan in the 7’0” range, Fudge is a wing that is very comfortable handling the ball in open space, attacking closeouts and has impressive vertical pop. Playing as almost a ‘point-center’ for his high school team out of necessity, he was one of the top players in Florida 5A basketball this season. He had coaches come through from Georgia Tech, Kansas, Notre Dame, and USC, and holds offers from the likes of Alabama, Arizona State, Arkansas, Clemson, DePaul, Georgia, Florida, Iowa State, LSU, TCU, Texas, Vanderbilt and Virginia Tech. His list will only expand, with Rivals now ranking him 37th overall and the 8th best small forward in the high school class of 2021.
With substantial growth since he started high school, Fudge brings a truly unique fluidity to go along with top-notch size for a wing. His first step really stands out, as well as just how comfortable he is taking angles in transition. He counts Chandler Parsons, who is the namesake of Team CP25, as a mentor. Plus, as a student of the game, his all-time starting five list will show he has a knowledge of NBA history. A true standout on and off the court, it seems that Fudge is someone destined for success regardless of the path he chooses.
In this interview, Fudge talks about his growth curve, family history in sports, his high school season, his goals moving forward, his workouts with an aspiring NBA draftee, some of the more challenging matchups he has faced, his off-court interests, academic pursuits, his thoughts on current events, and much more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2021 prospect Alex Fudge, from Jacksonville, Florida:
PI: Tell us about your background and your story. Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
AF: I was born in Jacksonville, Florida. Growing up, I really didn't know what sport I wanted to play. I got into a couple other sports like baseball, tried that out, wasn't my thing. Football definitely wasn't my thing. My mom used to play basketball. She was like, “I'm gonna sign you up for ‘Biddy Ball.’ You're gonna love it.” So I'm like, “I'm gonna try that out too.” I got in there and I would just dominate, like, best one out there. So that was like my first year playing basketball. And then the next year, she signed me up for, instead of Biddy Ball, she moved me up to the older group with the big kids. So I started playing up from there and from there on, basketball took me away. I mean, that was my first love. So growing up, I've got a brother, my mom as I told you, she played basketball in high school. She was one of the top recruits coming out of Louisiana. She signed to go to USC, but instead went to JuCo and then finished her degree at Paine College. And then my dad, coming from Georgia, He ran track and played football. He took a track offer from FAMU and went to school at FAMU. My brother, he's a football player at Tusculum University and is going into his third year. So my background I mean, basketball. That's been my whole life.
PI: What turned you on originally to basketball rather than baseball and football?
AF: Just the fact that I was better than everybody. When I took that next step after Biddy Ball and I started playing up, I was still almost better than everybody. I just kept on progressing, trying to get better. And then I noticed, I could really do this. I could really go for it because people were already hyping me up back then like, this man is going to be something. They said, "he's a tall kid." I guess I was, but growing up when I got past the Biddy stage and got to the middle school stage, I'm pretty sure I didn't hit my growth spurt until my ninth grade year. So I mean, just that feeling that I could do something or I could take this somewhere or be something with this. I mean, that's what really started it.
PI: Have you been strictly playing basketball since you were in first or second grade or did you play anything else until later on?
AF: I played football coming into my middle school years. I was kind of pressured. My brother played football at the middle school and he was great. Everything was about my brother in middle school. Football, track, basketball. So the coaches were like, "you're playing football." That was the coaches, not my mom. My mom didn't want me playing at all. So I got to sixth grade and didn't really want to play, but they threw me out on the field. I played quarterback. And from there I just had the height. I was like 5'6" or 5'7" at the time so I could throw the football and I could see over the line. That's all they wanted. I started my seventh grade year. In sixth grade, I sat behind two quarterbacks, and in my seventh grade year, I broke my foot. So my mom was like, you're not playing your eighth grade year. My dad overruled and said to let me play in what was probably my last year playing football. I actually did decent in eight grade. I took our team to the semi-final. We lost but it was against a pretty good team. Then, I knew that I wasn't going to be ready for high school football. Basketball is where my heart was at so I’m going to stay there.
PI: What was rehab like recovering from a broken foot?
AF: It was tough. I was just trying to get my mobility back. I was able to come back in January or February in time for the end of the eighth grade basketball season. I didn’t play that much then, though. I didn’t play at all in sixth grade because I sat out with a broken pinkie. Then my foot happened in seventh grade. I was sitting behind two other guys when I came back. Eighth grade was my year to show. I got back in the second half of the season around conference play. I was sitting behind a couple eighth graders. Then, Coach gave me a chance to get in and step up.
PI: Tell us about your brother’s path and what he means to you.
AF: My brother is one of my biggest inspirations. Growing up, watching my brother and his work ethic, it’s crazy. He would wake up, go train with my dad, then go try to find another trainer. He wanted to be the best. Everyone knew my brother was the fastest in the city. No doubt, hands down. As a wide receiver, if you put him on an island by himself, it’s over. He’s going to run a fly, and if you get it to him, it’s a touchdown. Everyone was like, “Aaron Fudge is going to be great in high school.” He was supposed to go to one of our neighborhood schools for high school, but he had a different plan. He went to a Catholic school on the other side of town called Bishop Kenny. Johnny Wolford (reserve quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams) actually went there. Watching my brother in high school, he didn’t get much burn on Varsity. Tenth grade year, he started off on Varsity, and that school had some serious talent. They had Charles Wade (Wake Forest) and other good kids. Eleventh grade year was supposed to be his year to shine and that was going to be the year colleges were going to see him play. He didn’t play much that year because he broke his ankle at practice. I’ve never seen my brother so upset. He came home that day crying. He was just determined. He was so focused and determined to get back on the field. He was telling us that he had to show something. He got back late his junior year and dominated coming off an ankle injury. I saw then that I had to get my work ethic up to his level. Now, he’s like 6’4” and 211 of straight muscle. Now he’s at a D-II at Tusculum University. Not playing his junior year really hurt him. He had a lot of interest. USF and Louisville were interested in him. Central Michigan was his only offer at the time, but they changed coaches so he lost that. Louisiana-Lafayette, where my mom’s from, was interested but they also changed coaches. His goal is to get to the NFL. That’s where he wants to be, so he’s working like crazy. He’s always asking me to come workout or run. He really inspires me.
PI: What have your parents instilled in you as far as work ethic and mentality going into college?
AF: I listen to my mom the most with basketball because she knows basketball. She played, like I said, and also coached at the D-1 level at Bethune-Cookman. I’m trying to get my brother’s work ethic and am doing two-a-days these days with lifts in the middle. My mom says I have to be ready for college. She said I’m going to want to come home and that it’s going to be hard but I have to be ready for it. She was telling me I have to be mentally and physically prepared. My dad instills life lessons on how to become a better man. My dad talks about my attitude and how I need to look at things. He changes the way I look at things. We see stuff different and both like to debate. We see things differently at times but can agree to disagree and compromise. I get my life skills from my dad and my mom teaches me the basketball side — how to be prepared, how to be the best I can and reach my maximum potential in basketball.
PI: Do you have any mentor figures in your life other than your parents?