When Alex Mercer was a freshman center, coach Joe Reiter said, she "couldn't make a layup, and she probably didn't know what one was." Now the 6-foot-1 senior is leading the team in scoring (an average 10.3 points a game), rebounding (8.5), and blocked shots (1.2). Mercer spent the early part of her life traveling with her parents, who were both in the military, and she did not play basketball. But when the Liberty coaches saw her, they decided to be patient, including former assistant Cliff Yeager, whose specialty is working with post players.
Is it true you did not know what a layup was four years ago?
Yes. I didn't even know what basketball was, really.
What was the hardest thing for you to pick up about basketball?
Probably the most fundamental things about it. I picked up the simple things, where people go and plays and stuff. The fundamentals are probably the hardest part because you can't make a shot without them, and you can't dribble the ball without them.
If you had one thing to do over in basketball what would it be?
Start sooner. I traveled with my parents. Mom was in the Marines and Dad in the Navy, and I like the Air Force. I was in Japan, Scotland and Puerto Rico. We moved every two years.
How does it feel to be a dominant player on your team?
Pretty good. A lot of it comes from the support of other players. It really does feel good when you walk out there for a jump ball and everyone is kind of looking at you. It makes you feel good that you worked hard to get where you are.
What's the most outstanding game you have played?
After thinking it over, it would have to be the 20 points and 14 rebounds I had against North Carroll.
What does your team most need to do to improve?
Making that extra pass and feeding the open player, and seeing the floor more.
If you were not playing basketball, what would you be doing?
I'd be playing club volleyball. I'd be working hard at that because I started in the 10th grade playing volleyball.
Do you plan on playing college basketball?
I've visited Villa Julie College informally to talk to the volleyball coach [Dave Trumbo, who was at Liberty before taking the Villa Julie job], and the basketball coach asked if I were interested. If I go to Villa Julie, I think I'll play both sports.