by Ryan Brown, Athletics Communications Student Assistant
Alex Vouyoukas is one of four seniors on the UTSA men’s basketball team this season. The tallest Roadrunner at 6-foot-9, the Athens, Greece, native has emerged as the best shot blocker on the team and also is one of the team top’s interior players. Vouyoukas recently took time out of his schedule to speak with goUTSA.com.
How has the season going so far?
“It’s been going alright. We lost a couple of games, which we feel we shouldn’t have lost. Those games stung, but at the same time we learned a lot from them. We were able to win on the road at Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin and we recently beat Northwestern State, so we feel like things are heading in the right direction during the most important part of our season.”
What do you feel is your role on the team?
“I’m not a person who goes and hunts for stats, as we have scorers on this team. Melvin [Johnson] will get his stats, Kannon [Burrage] will get his and Jeromie [Hill] will get his. My job is to get rebounds, set screens, block shots and finish when I’m called upon. It’s all about helping the team do whatever it takes to win.”
What has your journey been like from Greece to UTSA?
“Well, I was actually born in England and I lived there for a year before I moved to Greece. When I turned 18, I went to prep school in New Jersey for a year. After prep school I went to a Division I school in New York called Marist. I transferred from there to Indian Hills Junior College in Iowa, then transferred here to UTSA. Every year I was somewhere different, so it was nice to come back to the same place this year.”
When did the idea of UTSA come to mind?
“I was at a prestigious junior college. Wherever you played, there were Division I coaches in the stands. We had a lot of guys go Division I from my team. (Assistant) Coach (Robert) Guster actually recruited me from UTSA. From there he introduced me to Coach Thompson and I came on my visit. I had more visits planned after my UTSA visit, but I just really liked the whole atmosphere here so much that I canceled the other ones and I signed here.”
What drew you to UTSA versus other colleges?
“I liked the city a lot. San Antonio is a big city. The city the junior college I went to had a population of 20,000 people. I come from Athens, which is a city with over a million people. I like to be around people and here at UTSA, the campus is nice and you can be inside the city as well as outside. Coach Thompson played basketball, so you realize that he knows what you’re thinking and can help you become a better player. He’s a really good coach. I also met most of the guys on the team and I felt like everybody got along really well, on and off the court.”
Being a senior, what aspects do you try to teach the younger players?
“Hard work is an aspect that has helped me a lot this year. This year, I work a lot harder in the weight room with Coach (Travis) Reust. I have also worked harder with our director of player development Jeff Pasquariello. Both of those guys have helped me a lot, because they have pushed me. I try to tell the guys that you can practice two hours a day, but how many times are you going to do the repetitions that you are going to need for the games. You have to put in the extra work outside of practice if you want to be the best player you can be. Repetitions are good and so are getting good grades. If you’re good off the court, usually that will translate to being successful on the court, as well. I try to teach them to be responsible, go to class, stay out of trouble and be smart. I am one of the oldest guys on the team along with Sei [Paye], so I have taken the role as the older brother. I try to steer them in the right direction as much as I can.”
How has the UTSA coaching staff developed you as a player and what have you learned from them?
“They have helped me develop into the player that I am today. This year, I am a lot more confident and that’s partly due to me working on my game and partly due to the coaches. They showed me that they believe in me. It’s always good when a coach shows that they believe in you, because you become more confident as a player.”
What were some of your best experiences about winning the Southland Tournament and advancing to the NCAA Tournament last year?
“Our first game in the conference tournament was against Northwestern State. We came back from 14 points down in less than eight minutes. Our season could’ve ended right there, but we found a way and will to win. Cutting down the nets after we won the championship and playing in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ arena against Ohio State in front of 20,000 people are things that I will remember for the rest of my life. None of that would have happened if it weren’t for that comeback against Northwestern State. There were a lot of good times last year altogether and I was really happy for Devin Gibson, who was so special to this program. It was great to see him get a conference title and to the NCAA Tournament in his senior season.”
How was the team’s Australia trip last summer?
“The trip was out of this world. It was absolutely amazing. I go to Greece every summer, so I’ve done the long flights, but this was a 17-hour flight. It was amazing. The organizers had many great things planned for us. We went to the Great Barrier Reef, Sydney Opera House and other great places together as a team. If you see us as a team right now, we’re all close. I had never been on a team where everybody likes each other until I got here. I’m from Greece, we have two guys from Australia and we have one guy from Houston, but we’re all like brothers. I think a lot of that has to do with us all going across the world together and sharing those experiences. We’re a tight-knit group of guys.“
If you could describe yourself in one word, what would it be?
What should people know about you?
“I think they should recognize that I’m a team player and hopefully people can appreciate that. When you’re on a team, you have to set your ego aside and I’ve been able to do that this year. I hope they can understand that and come to the games. The first game when school was back in session was great. I really enjoyed the crowd and the team feeds off of them. Hopefully, fans continue to support us the rest of this season.”