On the weekend Alex Stewart was to decide about a return to Iceland for a professional basketball opportunity, she got another option.
Agnes Scott College head women's basketball coach and athletic director Joeleen Akin, who formerly worked at Stewart's alma mater, Georgia Tech, offered the Norcross graduate a job as assistant women's basketball coach and sports information director for the Decatur school's seven sports. Stewart, who played professionally earlier this year in Iceland, didn't particularly care for overseas life and had an urge to coach, so she accepted Akin's offer.
Now her days are spent in practice, game preparation, scouting and recruiting, among other duties.
"I knew during my senior year at Tech (2003-2004) that I wanted to stay involved in basketball by any means necessary, if it was coaching or anything else," said Stewart, who started work at Agnes Scott on Aug. 1. "Coach (MaChelle) Joseph kept telling me I'd be a really good coach and that's always been in the back of my mind."
Stewart expects her new job to be fun and a little more comfortable than her previous one.
A 5-foot-5 point guard who led the ACC in assists as a senior, she led Keflavik to the Icelandic League Championship, earning league MVP honors along the way. She had 24 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in the title game.
While she enjoyed the basketball, she didn't like living in Iceland. She missed her family and friends. She missed Atlanta. She didn't enjoy being the foreigner.
So in that regard, she didn't mind passing up the chance to rejoin her team in Iceland. She knows she'll miss playing but she doesn't expect to play again overseas, although her coach in Iceland has extended an offer for her to return in 2006-2007.
But coaching, not playing, appears to be her near future.
"I wouldn't say I'm done for good (playing)," Stewart said. "If I get a good opportunity, I'd definitely take advantage of it. I still work out. I'm still in good shape. It's just the overseas thing was very difficult. If I had a chance over here, I'd definitely take it. But I'm also very content with being a coach."
McPhee nearly sinks Tar Heels
Parkview grad Ricky McPhee led his Gardner-Webb (N.C.) men's basketball team to the brink of an upset over defending national champion North Carolina last weekend before the Tar Heels were rescued by a last-second 3-pointer for an 83-80 win.
McPhee made 6 of 8 shots (4 of 6 from 3-point range) and finished with a game-high 21 points, the last three on a game-tying 3-pointer with 11 seconds left. But the 80-80 tie only lasted briefly as David Noel's 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds remaining gave North Carolina the win.
McPhee's scoring total was the highest by a Gardner-Webb true freshman since the program moved to Division I-A in 2000-2001.
Kubik goes for career-high in BYU win
Brigham Young center Dani Kubik, a Collins Hill grad, had a career-high scoring game last weekend as the Cougars defeated Cal State-Northridge 76-59.
Kubik had 22 points - she was 7 of 13 from the field and 8 of 9 from the line - and seven rebounds. She followed that game with eight points and five rebounds on Tuesday night in the Cougars' win over UCLA.
The 6-foot-3 junior averaged 7.7 points and 4.1 rebounds last season, her first at BYU after transferring from Auburn.
Flagler sets school marks
Norcross grad DuVaughn Flagler, a wide receiver on the Gardner-Webb (N.C.) football team, tied one school record and broke another last weekend in the Bulldogs' season-ending 56-42 loss to Wofford.
Flagler had 14 catches, tying a school mark, for a school-record 210 yards and three touchdowns to spark a furious rally by his team. Gardner-Webb trailed 41-7 late in the third quarter before rallying to go up 42-41 in the fourth quarter. Had the Bulldogs held on, they would have had the second-greatest comeback in NCAA Division I-AA history.
Wofford running back Anthony DiNardo, a Brookwood grad, scored on his first college carry, a 1-yard plunge to make the lead 41-7. DiNardo, a fifth-year senior, finished his college baseball career last spring and joined the Terriers' football team for this season.
Blankenship 52nd at NCAA cross country
Wesleyan grad Lauren Blankenship, a runner at Samford (Ala.), placed 52nd out of 253 athletes in the NCAA Cross Country Championships last weekend in Terre Haute, Ind.
Blankenship, who narrowly missed All-American honors, completed the 6K race in 20 minutes, 41 seconds. The junior's time was considerably faster than her 2004 NCAA championships' time of 22:28.
Kreutzer an All-American again
Clayton State sophomore runner Allison Kreutzer received All-American honors for the second straight season after placing 11th in the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships in Chino, Calif. The Providence Christian grad was second in the nation as a freshman.
Kreutzer completed the 6K course this year in 21:48. Central Gwinnett grad Caitlin Heider, a junior at Alabama-Huntsville, was 66th in 23:33.
Causey earns Peach Belt honor
Berkmar grad Matt Causey, a junior on the North Georgia men's basketball team, was named the Peach Belt Conference Player of the Week earlier this week. Causey had 18 points and eight assists in the Saints' loss to Lindsey Wilson and added 30 points, nine rebounds and four assists in a victory over Campbellsville.
Gwinnett Grads is a column that runs on Saturdays spotlighting the achievements of past Gwinnett standouts. Coaches and parents are urged to send suggestions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or via fax to 770-339-8081.