At the conclusion of the 2010-11 basketball season, Oxford College coach Roderick Stubbs knew he'd have to find a new point guard to lead the Eagles. Little did he know that the player he was searching for was located just across town at Newton High School.
One month into his first collegiate season, Alex Ordu -- who transferred from Stephenson to Newton before his senior season -- is enjoying an admirable rookie campaign, averaging 9.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and five assists a game for the Eagles (5-3), who host the junior varsity squad from Emmanuel College tonight.
"When he transferred to Newton, coach (Timothy) Terry went over to watch one of their games and he took notice of Alex," Stubbs said. "He spoke with (Newton coach) Rick Rasmussen and was very impressed. Then we all started going over to see him play. When we checked out his grades, that's when we really started recruiting him."
Besides Oxford, the 5-foot-10 Ordu was also entertaining offers from Young Harris, Middle Georgia, Oglethorpe, Union (Tenn.) and Faulkner (Ala.).
"We were definitely competing for him," Stubbs said. "We got him and his mom to come visit the campus. I think they were a little surprised at both the level of basketball and academics we offered. We were looking for a point guard, and when you're recruiting a lot of people, you don't guarantee that anybody's going to start, but he was one of the better guards we were looking at, so we knew he'd have the opportunity to play early."
In his only season at Newton, Ordu averaged eight points, 6.5 assists, five rebounds and two steals per game as the Rams went 26-5, had winning streaks of 12 and eight games and reached the Class AAAAA elite eight before being eliminated by Valdosta.
"The thing I like about Oxford is their education is top-notch -- you have to be attracted to that," Ordu said when he signed with Oxford in May. "I'll be close to home and in the Newton community, so that'll be good. It's not a bad thing to stay close to home. Plus, I'll be on a college campus, so I'll still get to grow up on my own. It's nice to have family around, too."
Stubbs said that he wasn't surprised that Ordu made an immediate impact for the Eagles.
"We had kind of an idea from seeing Alex play that he could help us," he said. "He played a little on campus when he visited us and we had a good feel for what he could do. And once he adjusted to our type of game, he was just fine. He also played in the summer pro-am against some really good semipro and Division II players, so we knew he'd fit in right away."
Averaging close to 25 minutes a game, Ordu has already turned in several nice performances, including scoring 13 points against Truett-McConnell, 11 points against Southern Wesleyan and eight points (with seven rebounds and eight assists) against Shorter.
But his best game came on Nov. 16 at Bryan College in Tennessee, when he scored a team-high 18 points to go with six rebounds and eight assists.
"He almost had a triple-double that night," Stubbs said. "He does such a good job running the team and makes good decisions on the floor. He's very unselfish -- he's always looking for his teammates. He's a total team player."
Ordu is also the team leader at the free-throw line, connecting on 22 of 28 attempts (78 percent).
"He's doing a good job of penetrating, breaking down the other team's defense and getting fouled in the lane," Stubbs said. "And at the line, he's been knocking them down."
In addition to stepping up to playing college basketball, Ordu has also worked hard in the classroom.
"It's been a big adjustment for him," Stubbs said. "But he's bearing down and understanding the amount of time it takes to be successful with his academics. At some schools, basketball is the priority, but he doesn't have that luxury at Oxford College. He's got to focus on academics"
After tonight's game with Emmanuel College (4-7), Oxford will open play Friday in the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association's Region 17 with a game at Southern Crescent Tech in Griffin. The Eagles will then host the Greenville (SC) Titans at 3 p.m. on Sunday, and will host Tennessee-Temple's JV at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 6.
"Emmanuel is a very patient and disciplined team," Stubbs said. "They play hard but they're on a five-game losing streak. We hope to be able to get off to a quick start and help them keep that streak alive."
For more information on Oxford College men's basketball, visit www.oxford.emory.edu/athletics.