For Gurdon’s Leeper, excelling at athletics a family affair

By Morgan Acuff Published April 27, 2015 at 10:13 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: William Harvey

Alunzo Leeper, a senior guard for the Gurdon Go-Devils basketball team and a four-sport athlete at the Clark County school, averaged 19.2 points per game, hit nearly 45 percent of his 3-point field-goal attempts and shot 73.7 percent from the free-throw line this season. His efforts earned Leeper the honor of Tri-Lakes Edition Boys Basketball Player of theYear.

Alunzo Leeper comes by his last name honestly. As a four-sport athlete in high school, it’s clear that he loves to compete and showcase his physical skills. At 6 feet tall and 165 pounds, he played running back, wideout and cornerback on the football team at Gurdon High School. He runs track and just started playing soccer. But his skills on the basketball court are where he feels he has had the most success.

“I feel like I had a better year this year in basketball than I had in other sports since I’ve been in high school,” Leeper said.

Leeper’s skills don’t stop at the physical level. He scored a 25 on his ACT and has been an A and B student throughout high school. For this reason, he’s had an easier time deciding on a school to attend this fall. He’s been accepted to his schools of choice based on academics alone, but he still hopes to get a roster spot on one of the squads at Ouachita Baptist University or Henderson State University, both in Arkadelphia, or the University of Central Arkansas in Conway.

Leeper said Kobe Bryant is his favorite professional basketball player and that he admires “Black Mamba’s” work ethic and jump shot, as well as his overall game. Leeper models his jump shot after Bryant’s and touts his shooting ability as the strongest in his well-rounded set of skills.

“I’m an all-around player,” Leeper said. “I shoot the 3, I can drive, I come off screens. I do it all.”

His mother and uncles played basketball, and most of his family members play at least one sport, he said.

“My uncle Eric, he’s the one who really helped me out as far as my game. He would say, ‘If you’re gonna start something, finish it,’” Leeper said. “They stay on me a lot to be better than them. To be better, to go above what they did. They stay on me a lot about education.”

On the court, Leeper is a multi-guard. He switches from the 1 to the 2 guard, depending on the situation. As the spearhead of the offense, he possesses leadership to rally his teammates, many of whom he grew up with in the small town of Gurdon.

“They look up to me,” Leeper said. “I talk to the players when I’m on the court and just tell them, ‘We can do this and that’ to make our chances better at winning the game.”

His teammates listen because of his skills on the court, some of which augment their skills.

“I’m the guy that gets people open,” Leeper said. “When I start drawing the defense on me, I can dish it off and get people open. I could be one of those calm guys, in the big moments be real calm and do what I do. Or I can get real pumped up. It’s a mixture in between.”

From behind the 3-point line, Leeper shot 44 percent, along with an overall 51 percent from the field and 74 percent from the free-throw line. Leeper’s shooting ability tends to draw defenses to him when he has the ball, and his ability to be generous with the ball makes his role at guard that much more effective.

After high school, Leeper won’t be done with sports. He plans to play in college and make an impact for the college he chooses.

His goals are confident, but not cocky: “To compete for four years of college,” Leeper said, “maybe be the top dog in college, be the big man on campus and, hopefully, if I can, go to the league.”

Staff writer Morgan Acuff can be reached at (501) 244-4314 or email macuff@arkansasonline.com.