By LARRY VAUGHT
PADUCAH — He’s only been playing basketball since he was 14 years old, but four-star junior forward Alex Tchikou of Dream City Christian (Arizona) didn’t need long to hear about University of Kentucky basketball.
“I have heard of Kentucky basketball and I am interested in them but they have never really reached out to me,” said Tchikou, a native of France who is here playing in the McCracken County Mustang Madness. “I definitely follow them and like coach (John) Calipari’s mentality. I am just waiting for them to reach out to me.”
The 6-11 junior has offers from Kansas, UCLA, Arizona State, Oregon, USC, Maryland, Mississippi State, Western Kentucky, Washington and Nebraska along with others.
He’s listed as a power forward but he can play a guard/forward position because of his length and skills.
“He really has a guard mindset, guard skill level,” Dream City coach Kyle Weaver said. “He works a lot on his ball-handling and being able to create shots off the dribble rather than depending on his size alone to score.”
He’s a top 25 player in the 2021 recruiting class and those who watch him on the Grind Session think that ranking is going to rise dramatically before next year. He had 14 points on 6-for-12 shooting, 10 rebounds, four blocks and one steal in an 85-58 win over The Rock Friday. He came back with 18 points, six rebounds, three blocks, one steal and one assist in a loss to Word of God Christian Saturday. He had two 3-pointers in both game.
Kentucky coaches may have reached out to his coach and Tchikou says he would “definitely” like to hear from UK himself.
“When I came to the U.S. for the first time I had a list of schools that I wanted them to offer (me a scholarship). I pretty much have everybody I wanted. I am just missing Kentucky,” he said. “I have another year in high school but I am still open for recruiting. I definitely have some schools that have set the tone and really interested in me but Kentucky is a school I want to hear from.”
He played last month at Marshall County Hoopfest where Mississippi State had a coach present to watch him. He says Oregon talks to him the most of any school and he’s made an unofficial visit to Arizona State already. He’s also been to USC because his brother and trainer live in Los Angeles.
He has liked playing in the showcase events in Kentucky because a “lot of people show love and bring energy,” which works well with the way he plays and his engaging personality on and off the court.
“It is kind of how I have to play with lot of energy and passion because I started playing basketball really late, so I have to bring something different. I always have to bring energy,” Tchikou said. “It was kind of my thing because I didn’t have the skills that I have now, so I had to bring something that people don’t usually bring.”
Even though his father played basketball, he grew up playing soccer in France because that “is the sport” there.
“I was pretty good but I am tall and that’s tough for a soccer player and my dad told me from the time I was little I should play basketball,” Tchikou said. “I spent a lot of time in the gym and on the playground by myself. My dad and trainer have helped a lot but I’ve worked a lot to get to where I am.
“I definitely know what I want. I am the kind of person that would like to know where I am going and what I want to do. I don’t like to be surprised by anything. I always try to have a plan.”
He admits some have tried to compare him to NBA stars Kevin Durant or Giannis Antetokounmpo. He doesn’t mind that.
“But I feel like I am a mix of both. I want to be myself and build my own legacy,” he said.