Chasing A Dream: Hauser graduate has workout with Pacers ahead of NBA Draft

Hauser graduate Alex Gross goes through a workout for the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday at the Ascension St. Vincent Center.

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Growing up in Hope, Alex Gross was a fan of the Indiana Pacers.

On Tuesday morning, the 2018 Hauser graduate had a chance to work out for the team he followed as a kid. He was one of a handful of NBA Draft and free-agent hopefuls to work out for the Pacers this week in Indianapolis.

“It’s amazing,” Gross said in a video posted on the Pacers’ Twitter page. “I was telling my family (Monday) it was just kind of surreal growing up watching the Pacers, being from an hour south of here. It’s just an amazing opportunity. God blessed me in crazy ways some times. It’s super fun. I really enjoyed the whole morning and everything that came with it.”

The Pacers worked out players each of the past five days in advance of the NBA draft, which is June 22 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

“It was good,” Gross said. “It was a little bit of an adjustment. It’s my first NBA workout, so I just kind of got a feel for what all it entails and everything like that. But it was fun. I really enjoyed it. It was fun to play against elite competition, obviously, and just kind of work on my game in front of the rest of the world.”

Gross played his fifth and final collegiate season this winter at Morehead State. He helped lead the Eagles to the Ohio Valley Conference regular-season title and an upset win at Clemson in the NIT.

The 6-foot-10 Gross averaged 12.0 points and team highs of 7.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game and was named OVC Defensive Player of the Year.

“It was amzaing, everything I could have hoped for, really,” Gross said. “Coach (Preston) Spradlin and his staff were the best in the world. They seriously are amazing. They were honest with me throughout the whole process from summer all the way up to winter into the NIT, they were the exact same guys that were recruiting me.

”Just a stand-up staff, really amazing to work with every single day,” he added. “They made it fun to come in and play hard, and that obviously is a big deal when it’s the grind of a season, to actually have coaches that believe in you, and you believe in them, just to have that trust. But it was a lot of fun, everything I could have hoped for.”

Gross had spent his first four years of college at Olivet Nazarene. His final year there, he averaged 23.8 points, 14.1 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 3.2 blocks per game in earning Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year and first-team All-America honors. He was named CCAC Player of the Week seven times and NAIA Player of the Week three times and was on the Small College Basketball Bevo Francis Watch List Top 25.

“It’s awesome,” Gross said. “I’m grateful for every opportunity that I’ve had. My four years in NAIA for coach (Nick) Birkey and all of that was always everything I could have hoped for. All four years, we experienced a lot of winning. I got to play a lot, and just to represent the NAIA level-type players is obviously an honor. There’s a lot of good talent at the level, so just to get this recognition and play for them was a nice honor.”

Gross has a similar size and build to that of two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic, who currently has the Denver Nuggets in the NBA Finals. Although not at the same level, Gross’ game has some similarities to Jokic’s, as well.

“I would say skilled post player, kind of more about just passing and low-post scoring,” Gross said. “I’m trying to develop my outside shot, but skilled post man, kind of like a Jokic type.”