SPRINGVILLE - There was never a doubt that if Springville senior Alex Koppes wanted to play basketball at the collegiate level, he was going to get the opportunity.
The only question was, where would one of the greatest Oriole players ever to grace the courts decide to play for the next four years?
In the end, that decision proved to be relatively easy.
“I went on a visit to the University of Dubuque back in September and right away really liked everything about the university and the basketball program,” said Koppes, who didn’t commit to the Spartan program immediately.
That would come later.
“I liked the campus and the coaching staff, and just felt they really believed in me. I knew assistant Coach John Payan through my AAU program (Iowa Preps), so there was a good comfort level with the program as well. But I wanted to take a look at some other schools too and see what they had to offer compared to Dubuque.”
Koppes’ initial collegiate visit was actually to Central College while coaches from Mount Mercy, Buena Vista and Wartburg were also in contact with the Oriole superstar throughout the recruiting process.
“I took a visit to Mount Mercy too,” Koppes said. “They came in kind of late in the process and were an option I was looking at. But a couple of months ago I took another visit up to Dubuque and watched some of their games, and just fell in love with everything all over again.
“Six months after my first visit to Dubuque I committed to the program.”
Koppes, a two-time class 1A first-team All-State guard for the Springville program, one of the few in Oriole history to attain such honors, knew immediately upon his second trip to Dubuque that the Spartans were the program for him.
“I went up there and played in some open gyms and just felt really comfortable with all the players and the coaches,” Koppes said. “The program does return a lot of guys and are coming off a good year, but I think I can see myself fitting in there and hopefully helping the program this winter as a freshman. Dubuque plays a fast brand of basketball and like to shoot it just like we did at Springville, so I should have no trouble with that part of things. The part that’s going to be different for me is on the defensive end of the floor. At Springville we ran a lot of zone, and Dubuque plays all man-to-man. They do like to pressure the basketball, and we did a lot of that in high school and had a lot of success with it too.”
While Koppes is eagerly looking forward to his collegiate career with the Spartans, he’s going to miss his time with the Orioles, as the last four years have been among the most successful in program history.
“I didn’t quite accomplish everything I wanted to during my high school career, but we sure had a lot of fun,” Koppes said. “I really wanted to make it back to state again this year and we came up a little short of that goal. Overall, I’m very proud of everything we’ve accomplished the last four years. I’m proud of all the school records our team set this past season. Some of the stuff was surprising.”
Koppes, who had a passion more for football early in his athletic career, knew by his freshman year basketball was going to be his ticket to the next level.
“I actually didn’t think about playing college basketball as a little kid,” he said. “That came later. Football was my favorite sport early on, but when I started having some success, and really enjoyed what I was doing playing more and more AAU basketball, I started hoping I might be able to play at the college level.
“My parents put me in a position to be successful allowing me to improve my game by playing at the AAU level. They always gave me everything I needed. I’m so thankful to them and my brother Kyle. I wouldn’t have been as competitive as I am without my big brother.
“Coach Merritt and all my high school coaches always had faith in me and gave me the confidence I needed, but it all started back at the youth levels with coaches Jeff Menster and Russ Wagaman. They instilled the passion for the game in all of us. I am forever thankful to everyone, I wouldn’t have this chance to keep playing the game I love so much without all of them.”