Boys Basketball: Alexandria's Grayson Grove ready for more in 2022-23 season
The 6-foot-8 junior had a busy summer and fall playing basketball and soccer and is now ready to make another leap on the basketball court this winter for the Cardinals.
ALEXANDRIA - Alexandria’s Grayson Grove had a busy summer. The 6-foot-8 forward traveled across the country playing summer basketball, AAU ball for D1 Minnesota 3SSB, growing his game and garnering national interest.
“It was a really good way to just keep playing over the summer,” Grove said. “It got so much better,” Grove said. “I traveled out to places like California, South Carolina and Indianapolis. All those competitions for me were very challenging but they have made me much better. I played in a lot of fall leagues, including the hardwood league. That gets you tied with playing with players that haven’t really played with. That kind of ties in with this year’s team. We have a couple of guys with varsity experience, but we also have a lot of new guys on varsity this year too. So having that experience of playing with new guys will really help me out this season I think.”
Grove is entering his junior year and has two scholarship offers, one from Central Arkansas and one from Illinois State.
He’s received interest from a multitude of schools, including but not limited to, South Dakota State, North Dakota State, South Dakota, North Dakota, Boston College, and Minnesota.
Grove said he went down to the Minnesota campus for a football game in the middle of the fall.
“That was a really good experience,” Grove said. “I love talking to the coaches and I got to meet some players. So that was a really fun time. They're trying to get me down into some games.”
Grove is coming off of a sophomore campaign where he averaged 12.5 points per game, 6.8 rebounds, 1.9 deflections, 1.8 steals and a block per game and helped Alexandria to a 23-6 record and a Section 8-3A title game appearance.
This season, Grove is looking to add to his game, specifically with his playmaking ability.
“One of my goals for the season is to grow in my playmaking ability,” Grove said. “Last year, we had guys like Kristen [Hoskins] and Carter [Steffensmeier] and all of those seniors who made some really nice plays for me. I think it would be a really good thing for me to make plays for my teammates and me.”
At the season-ending awards banquet in the spring of 2022, Steffensmeier and Grove were named co-defensive players of the year for the Cardinals.
Alexandria head coach Forrest Witt has seen growth from Grove, specifically with his perimeter play.
“I think Grayson has definitely taken a step in the offseason," Witt said. “I think he’s much more comfortable on the perimeter. His shooting has improved. I think that his ball handling has improved and I think this is overall confidence as a player has grown a lot too. That’s kind of what we’re expecting of him and that’s kind of what he’s expected of himself coming into his junior year.”
Coming into his junior year, Grove is one of the most experienced players that the Cardinals have. Alexandria lost 10 seniors from last season’s team.
“Despite being a junior, he's our most experienced player and he’s certainly someone that we're going to look for some leadership on the court,” Witt said. “We're looking to him as our most experienced guy and as a captain to take on some of that leadership role.”
In addition to playing basketball in the summer and fall, Grove was a stout goaltender for the Alexandria boy’s soccer team in the fall.
Grove, who earned all-conference honors by the season’s end, helped the Cardinals hold opponents to a total of16 goals in 18 games combined this season.
The Cardinals' defense pitched nine shutouts in the 2022 season.
Grove said that a lot of the skills he’s learned from soccer training have translated for him on the basketball court, specifically on the defensive end.
“With goalie training, we work a lot on lateral quickness,” Grove said. “That helps with defense, and also vertical quickness with getting up and down. It all helps out a lot in basketball with blocking shots, getting rebounds, getting up the court and finishing at the rim.”
Grove’s athletic ability has been on display on the court for the Cardinals and there should be more to come.
Witt said that one that the coaching staff is working on with Grove’s game is becoming more of an inside-out threat.
Along with Grove, Witt is excited about the team’s veteran leadership this season.
“So obviously Grayson is coming back with the most experience on our team, but Jaxon Schoenrock also has had some really good experience,” Witt said. “Chase Thompson had some good experience along with Trevin [Hoepner]. I like our leadership. They’ve been really good ever since the offseason started this summer. We’re going to need that this year. Good leadership is always important. So we're looking at our seniors and the guys who have been through it to lead us this year.”
Witt expects Grove, along with 6-foot-7 sophomore Chase Thompson to draw a lot of attention from defenses this upcoming season.
“Grayson and Chase are probably two guys that the teams are going to be aware of, but I think we have multiple guys that are good offensive threats,” Witt said. “We just have to feel out and see where guys are going to fall in place.”
The Cardinals have won 19 plus games and have been a top three team (out of eight) in Section 8AAA in the last four seasons which includes a 2020-21 season where the team won the section title and made it to the MSHSL Class AAA championship game.
This season the Cardinals are hungry for more of that success and are aiming high.
“We want to win all our games,” Grove said. “I think we can do it. We have the arsenal for it. We want to make it to the state tournament too and make a deep run there as well.”
The Cardinals begin their 2022-23 season with a home tilt against Benilde-St. Margaret’s on Friday, Dec. 2, at 7:15 p.m.