Alex Legion: What Could Have Been and What Is

Submitted by MGoChippewa on May 22nd, 2014 at 12:17 PM

Slow day here at work, and for whatever reason the name Alex Legion popped up in my head.  So I decided to check and see what the former UM commit and UK/UI/FIU player is up to these days.  But first, the back-stroy for the younger/newer crowd: Legion was a big deal when he initially committed to UofM in 2005, decommitted 5 months later, and then recommitted in the following three months.  I remember Legion as one of the first UM sports recruits I ever got excited about and thought he would make watching Michigan basketball fun again.

Ranked 44th overall by Rivals, 39th by Scout and 28th by ESPN, Legion, who played his HS ball at Detroit Country Day before transferring to Oak Hill Academy for his senior season, was seen as a major grab for Tommy Amaker.  Legion was expected to form a dynamic backcourt duo with Manny Harris, boosting Michigan basketball back to prominence.  When Amaker was fired in '07, he demanded a release from his NLI because "he didn't want to play for John Beilein"(!!).  A quick bit of googling suggests that Legion's mother was heavily involved in changing his commitment to Kentucky, among other things.

Legion found himself at Kentucky after being released by UofM, where he would play 6 games before transferring out from under Billy Gillespie, due to concerns over playing time.  He then landed at Illinois and played 33 games, averaging around 3 PPG in his time there. To the surprise of his teammates and coach Bruce Weber, Legion then transferred to FIU to play for Isiah Thomas.  His career at Florida International got off to a good start, as Legion averaged 13 PPG and 5.1 RPG in his first ten games of the '10-'11 season, including a pair of 20-point performances.  For the first time in his college career, Alex Legion was getting a chance and taking advantage of it.

 Legion appeared to finally be settling in somewhere when he was dismissed by Thomas and FIU for an undisclosed violation of team rules.  This was the last sad turn and the end of Legion's college career, which saw him finish with career averages of 5.65 PPG, 2.12 RPG and 0.76 APG.  Not exactly what had been planned for a consensus top-50 player coming out of high school, and a guy who had been said to have limitless talent.

In 2012 Legion signed with PVSK Pannonpower, a Division A (highest) professional team in Hungary.  He found success with the club, averaging 19.5 PPG and 5.65 RPG in the 2012-13 season, parlaying that success into a deal with the MecEnergy Roseto Sharks, an Italian professional team in the Legadue Silver league.  Legion had another great season with the Sharks, notching 23.3 PPG and 9.6 RPG and being chosen for the league's All-Star game.  On May 5, 2014 Legion scored 20 points after being signed by Sagesse - Al Hekmeh Beirut of the Lebanese Division A pro league, for one day to replace an injured player.  

As far as I can tell, Legion will continue playing for Roseto in Italy, although I cannot find anything to confirm this.  I'm glad to see that things appear to finally be going well for Alex Legion.  It truly seems like he was manipulated, both by his mother and his AAU coach, as a teen, and never really had the chance to develop into a good basketball player and person.  While he is ultimately responsible for the way things happened during his college career, part of me feels that he never had a chance due to his upbringing.  Sometimes a guy with his amount of talent is just treated as a "meal ticket".  I wish him continued success in Europe/Asia; and who knows, maybe he'll get another chance here in the US someday?  

SOURCES: Yahoo, RealGM, Euro/AsiaBasket, Court-Side

Comments

oriental andrew

May 22nd, 2014 at 1:01 PM ^

Remember that Beilein had a reputation at that point for running an odd-ball defense and unusual offense.  He wasn't considered elite, really, rather an over-achiever with niche-type players at WVU.  He wasn't known as someone who sent players to the NBA - in fact, his first drafted player ever was Darius Morris!  So I could understand the reticence, particularly given that Amaker was outright canned and had built up a great relationship with the Legions.

Also his mom seems a bit out there.

Mr Miggle

May 22nd, 2014 at 12:55 PM ^

As I recall, after announcing he was transferring from Kentucky, he almost immediately announced that he wanted to stay. Michigan was one of the schools he listed as a possible destination after leaving there. Beilein decided to ask his team whether he would be a good fit before choosing not to pursue him (again).

His mother proclaimed him as a prophet and was constantly talking to the media. It was hard not to feel concerned for him. 

umchicago

May 22nd, 2014 at 7:11 PM ^

also, i remember amaker also having another 5* commit along with harris and legion.  can't remember his name though.  it was all beilein could do to just keep harris here.

i also remember watching legion in a few games while at U of I.  what a chucker.  never saw a shot he didn't like; despite his limited minutes.  plus, he was a turnover machine and didn't like to play D.  that got him into weber's doghouse pretty quickly.  hence the transfer to FIU.

it doesn't surprise me though that he found success overseas.  he probably finally grew up and realized what he needed to do to be successful.

MGoBender

May 30th, 2014 at 4:35 PM ^

I remember being in the Maize Rage right next to Legion's mom when Illinois came to town with Legion on the team.

Certifiably insane is the tip of the iceberg.  She was totally delusional. Any time Illinois scored she did the "hand in the air, point down at the bench while nodding her head" move.  Never mind that her son was, at best, a sixth man and that Michigan was beating Illinois.

Arlo Pear

May 22nd, 2014 at 4:41 PM ^

After missing out on Joe Crawford and Malik Hairston. I thought finally, Amaker had landed the player and class that would help lead Michigan back to prominence. To bad it turned out so poorly for him in college. Everyone can't make it to the NBA but he still has carved out a professional career. Good for him.

4roses

May 23rd, 2014 at 12:23 PM ^

I too was initially very excited by the guy. But then came the 1st (of what obviously became multiple) head scratching decisions. In an interview immediately after winning a state title with Country Day he came right out and stated that he was not happy because he wanted the offense to run through him and was looking to transfer. So to accomplish this he decided to transfer to a basketball factory that was already stocked with other DI talent.  

ATLWolverine

May 26th, 2014 at 3:39 PM ^

Thanks for doing the legwork on researching what happened to Alex Legion.

I did a double take when I saw a post about Alex Legion, that is a name I haven't heard in a long time. Sad to hear that he squandered so many opportunities, but happy to hear he may finally be in a position to find some peace and turn his life around.

Best of luck to him.