College Basketball

Crown Point's Albrecht enjoys hometown hero status

2013-06-26T20:00:00Z 2013-12-28T17:23:40Z Crown Point's Albrecht enjoys hometown hero statusSteve Hanlon steve.hanlon@nwi.com, (219) nwitimes.com
June 26, 2013 8:00 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | Before the first week of April, Spike Albrecht's tweets were more conventional, with apple pie and Aunt Bee in the subject lines.

Then, after scoring 17 first-half points against Louisville in the NCAA national championship game, the Crown Point native was "trending" worldwide in the Twitter universe.

After the game, he sent a tweet to mega star Kate Upton. It said, "hey saw you at the game last night, thanks for coming out!” It was followed by "Hope to see you again,” with a smiley face afterward.

That's how quick a life can change. A barely-recruited basketball player who averaged 1.6 points per game for Michigan in the regular season ended up making the NCAA's All-Final Four team.

He was the buzz for the national runners-up.

"I guess my story is a great example for young kids," said Albrecht, who just spent two months at home before heading back to Ann Arbor this week.

His return was like the first time Elvis drove back into Tupelo. Literally.

"I didn't play much all season, then I got my opportunity," Albrecht said. "Our coaches always talk about 'next man up.' It's something I always think about. You never know when your number will be called.

"So kids need to be always ready."

Albrecht was like the Hub's Pied Piper. In his two months home, Albrecht threw out the first pitch at the Cal Ripken Opening Ceremony, then signed autographs for almost every kid in the park.

He was also the official starter for Hub Run, and ran in the race. He was given the Inspiration Award at City Hall by mayor David Uran.

He spent half a day at St. Mary's School where a mother made maize and blue cupcakes.

"Spike" also went to his elementary school, Solon Robinson, for the Talent Day on the last day of school. The teachers did a skit with basketballs and a prerecorded announcement with Albrecht in it. The kids did not know he was there.

He dribbled out with two basketballs and did some tricks, just like he did in Atlanta.

The place went up for grabs.

"I had a little bit of fun," Albrecht said. "A lot of the people in Crown Point were great to me. They gave me a lot of support. I was very glad to share this experience with them, it was one for the ages."

He remembered his glory days in the C.P. Little League, where his nickname came from. America learned this in April. He laughed when talking about signing all the autographs.

"They had me pinned in the corner, it was crazy," Albrecht said. "I wasn't getting out of it."

He blew the opening horn at the Hub Run, then started running with his little sister, Hannah.

"I kick started the 5K with an air horn on the square, there were tons of people," he said. "Then, I started the 2K and me and my sister hopped in line. I don't know what I finished. I wasn't trying to break any records."

Crown Point coach Clint Swan reveled in the success of his star, a 2011 grad. Swan was at the City Council meeting and spoke. He gave big props to Chuck and Tammy Albrecht, the parents of the Bulldogs' top hoops family.

But he spoke more about the kind of people they are than the type of basketball players they are.

"I got very mad when all these Division I schools wouldn't recruit Spike," Swan said. "I was upset when he didn't make the Indiana All-Star team or when he wasn't named either (news)paper's Player of the Year.

"But both of them simply said, 'Things happen for a reason.' I think everyone in Crown Point felt slighted when Spike was slighted. When he finally broke through we all shared that with him because we all knew he could do it. It was fun to watch him prove so many people wrong.

"Playing Division I basketball is a grind. I know coming home was a great rest for him. He was able to see what kind of impact he had on this community."

Along with Lake Central's Glenn Robinson III and Chesterton's Mitch McGary, the region threesome will have another player with area roots up north this winter. Andrew Dakich, son of former Andrean great Dan Dakich, will be a preferred walk-on for Michigan.

So there will likely be more marquees in Indiana talking about the Wolverines.

"It was a lot of fun to be home," Spike said. "(The NCAA run) was crazy for sure. But I have two older brothers who would humble me pretty quick. We had a great run, a great finish. We were in the final game with a chance to win.

"Since we didn't win I am very motivated like the rest of the team. We have that drive to get back there and that's what we'll work on for the rest of the summer."

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