EXPLOSIVE - ex•plo•sive (adjective): relating to a sudden and dramatic increase in amount or extent
When I think of explosiveness and Louisville Basketball, one player in particular almost always comes to mind – Alvin Sims. Watching Sims develop from his freshmen year to his final season as a Card was a joy. He personified what it meant to work hard and to undergo skill development. By the time he left UofL he had put so many opposing players on posters that he would have opened an art shop. He had also become a helluva basketball player who helped spark an improbable run to the 1997 NCAA Tournament Elite Eight.
In this third issue of Return To The Flock, I go in depth with Alvin about his personal life after basketball, his days at UofL and everything in between. I appreciate your reading this piece and I hope it serves as a reminder that dreams are made to be fulfilled.
OK, let’s start in the present. What exactly are you doing these days professionally and are you still in KY Alvin?
AS: I work at Sudlow Intermediate School in Davenport, Iowa. I coach 7th grade boys, coach travel ball for the Iowa Swarm and I train players. You can find my content on my S5Academy Facebook page, Instagram account is @alsims05 & my Twitter account is @AJS005.
(editor’s note: I have checked out his Facebook page and it is well worth you time to do so)
Can you tell me a little bit about your kids? It appears that you have a daughter who is a pretty serious baller.
AS: My oldest daughter played for Tennessee State. Her name is Asia Sims and she graduated last year. She played on the Kentucky All-Star team, all-time leading scorer at Bourbon County High School. My son, Izaya Sims, is a Junior and plays at Midway University. My middle daughter, Izabella Sims, is a junior at North Davenport High School and is one of the top juniors in the state of Iowa. My youngest daughter, Avery Sims, is a freshman at Mason County High School in Kentucky and she’s very talented on and off the court as well.
So switching gears, tell me a little bit about where you grew up and how you ended up in Paris, KY (Bourbon County)?
AS: I was born in Evanston, Illinois. My family moved to Paris, Ky. when I was nine years old after my mom and dad split up. We had roots there on my mother’s side. My great grandparents lived there and both of my mother’s parents originated there.
So is it true you grew up an Illinois fan? If so, I must admit, one of my favorite non-UofL players ever was Kendall Gill.
AS: Yes, I would always root for the Illini as far as college basketball and Kendall Gill was also one of my favorite players along with Marcus Liberty.
(editor’s note: this is the second straight UofL player I’ve interviewed that didn’t grow up a UofL fan, the horror!)
I’m aware that former assistant coaches Larry Gay & Scooter McCray were primarily responsible for your recruitment to UofL. How much communication did you have with Coach Crum during that process?
AS: Yes, both of them were. Coach Gay actually had family ties in Winchester, KY (Clark County) only 20 minutes away from Paris. I really didn’t communicate much with Denny during the process.
Did people act like you couldn’t make it or play at UofL? Having spent part of your life in Bourbon County you HAD to have experienced dealings with UK fans right?
AS: I think the people in my area didn’t know what to expect as far as expectations I had for myself. I can recall some who doubted, but I had played against a lot of good talent and held my own. I also was focused on my goal and that was to only succeed. I didn’t have any dealing with UK fans. The people from my area would say “I’m a UK fan but I always routed for you!” They seemed proud that I represented the area well. Especially my junior year when we played at Rupp.
So you become a Cardinal. Looking back, what wood you say your 3 most memorable experiences playing basketball at UofL?
AS: The Kentucky rivalry, Beating UK in 95, getting to the Elite 8 in 1997.
In my recent interview with BJ Flynn, I told him that the most exhilarating UofL game I ever watched while in attendance was the 1995 Dream Game win over Kentucky. One of the key plays I’ll forever remember was your dunk over Jeff Sheppard. Hell, I almost blacked out. Any specific memories from that game?
AS: That play for certain and also crossing up Tony Delk and consistently breaking the Kentucky press.
(Alvin’s dunk is around the 1:08:07 mark)
(editor’s note: and make no mistake, breaking that press with the talent UK had was a daunting task)
Explain the UofL/UK rivalry in just a few sentences.....
AS: It was very intense. It was the most draining set of games I’ve ever played in. It was probably the game we prepared the most for as a team.
(editor’s note: this is one reason I feel that UofL fell behind in the rivalry the past decade – it didn’t appear to mean as much)
I’ll probably ask every player who suited up under Denny Crum this question (I have so far) but how would you describe him as a person and as a coach?
AS: Coach Crum was very competitive on and off the court. He was very knowledgeable and philosophical. I’ve learned a lot from him. Things really sunk in after I left the Ville.
So many Louisville players of the past developed identities because of their play. Just within your era you had Tick Rogers (defensive wizard), BJ Flynn (hustler/flopper) and Samaki Walker (shot blocker). Aside from being a guy who got a ton of steals, you are obviously known as a prolific dunker. Could you share with me some of your favorite dunks from your UofL days?
AS: I would say the following: the UCLA drop step over Jelani McCoy & JR Henderson, the 6 or 7 dunks at Rupp in 1996 & the 97 NCAA Sweet 16 game vs Texas dunk at the Orange Dome.
Who would you say are the top 3 players you competed against in college?
AS: I’d say Kentucky had the most talented player from a team standpoint. Individually, I would say Tony Delk, Marcus Camby, and Tim Duncan.
Who was the best all-around player you went to battle with at UofL and why?
AS: I’d say Samaki Walker because he was affective on both ends of the floor. He rebounded, defended and scored.
What are your favorite memories regarding Freedom Hall? Did it smell like German roasted nuts to the players like it did to fans?
AS: The atmosphere was incredible EVERY GAME no matter who we played. Yes, it definitely had that smell!
Louisville has obviously entered a new era from a coaching perspective. What are your thoughts on Chris Mack?
AS: I feel he will continue the winning tradition and his philosophies are strong enough to bring the best out of his players. He’s doing very well.
After leaving UofL I know you played professionally. Tell me about that experience in general and where did you play?
AS: I started out in the CBA which is currently known as the “D” League. I was voted Rookie of the Year and became a Champion, I made a name for myself in the professional ranks as my game continued to evolve. I played briefly in the NBA with the Phoenix Suns, and I had a great preseason with the Jazz but it didn’t work out because they already had a full roster. I continued my professional career in Europe & ended it in the Middle East. I played 11 years professionally. I retired in 2009 after a foot injury.
How are you passing time and staying busy with the COVID-19 pandemic still taking its toll?
AS: I’m taking online classes, getting my Masters in Business. I’ve taken up cycling, getting a lot of miles in on my road bike.
Do you keep in touch with any of your former teammates?
AS: Yeah, I reach out to the guys on social media and try to meet up with them when I come to town.
How do you hope UofL fans remember you and is there anything you want them to know?
AS: I hope to be remembered as a dedicated player that left everything on the court. I appreciate all the support given to me and all the players who have represented the Ville. The fans are definitely part of the tradition.