Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 1/18/13
Still under both the proverbial radar and preferred height for those playing at the highest level of college basketball, Alex Barlow will admit that his life has changed over the last month only because it has. When the 5'11 Barlow hit an overtime runner to beat then-No. 1 Indiana on Dec. 15, he was a walk-on hero, the latest in a long line of them in Butler's giant-killing program. Now, he's a walk-on starter for a team that looks like a lot of other Butler teams in recent years and is playing like one, too. The Bulldogs are 15-2 and ranked No. 13 nationally as they head into a nationally-televised game Saturday night against No. 8 Gonzaga. Butler's leading scorer, Rotnei Clarke, will miss the game due to a neck injury suffered last week at Dayton, meaning coach Brad Stevens will count on Barlow and a committee of many to pick up the slack. It's worked before, and it's working again. Just two years ago, Barlow was a baseball recruit who thought he wanted to one day be a college basketball coach. Playing in tradition-rich programs in both sports at Cincinnati Moeller High School, Barlow had Div. II college basketball interest, but not much of it was mutual. Longtime Moeller basketball coach Carl Kremer reached out to former Moeller and Butler player Mike Monserez, who introduced Barlow to Stevens. After a pair of visits in early 2011 and some time for Barlow to compare his baseball offers to the chance to walk on to a program that had played in back-to-back national championship games, Barlow surprised many people who knew him by choosing to hang up his spikes and mitt. "Frankly, he was 5'11," Kremer said. "And because of that, we thought baseball would be his sport in college." But Stevens not only provided a great teacher from whom Barlow could learn the coaching craft, he emphasized his philosophy that the best players play for Butler, regardless of their size of recruitment. Stevens has been known to say he roots for the underdog, and not just when his team is taking on BCS-level opponents in the NCAA Tournament. Barlow played just 77 minutes over 16 games last season as a freshman and entered his second year very low on the early depth chart again. Butler's returning point guard, Chrishawn Hopkins, was dismissed from the team in September and transferred to Wright State. The Bulldogs started the season with Clarke running the point, which limited his scoring chances. From there, Stevens tried several different combinations. Barlow has started the last 10 games. His career high remains 6 points, but he's pitched in with assists, steal, floor burns and quality minutes that have kept Butler going, both before and after Clarke's injury. "What we do from a basketball standpoint, it's the old 'Next man up,' (philosophy)," Stevens said. "You prepare for your time. You're in the gym every day for a reason." Butler hasn't lost since the night before Thanksgiving, running off 12 in a row. Last Saturday's win at Dayton held extra-special meaning for Barlow, a native of Springboro, Ohio. Barlow's parents have long been Dayton season ticket holders. His grandmother was a longtime employee of the University of Dayton, and Barlow played at least one game at UD Arena during all three years he started at Moeller. "I've seen hundreds of games in that place," Barlow said. "To come back and play against Dayton as a starter, that was special. But it was another game, another step for us in getting where we want to go." That shot in traffic to beat Indiana stands as the biggest of his young life -- "and the first game-winner I've ever hit," he said -- and one that brought him notoriety. Kremer said he was in his office at school and was late for a family Christmas party because the Butler-Indiana game went to overtime, but he "couldn't stop smiling" after seeing Barlow deliver the winning points. "I'd be lying if I said I saw Alex some day hitting those big shots or leading off the national highlight shows," Kremer said. "But he's the kind of kid you never count out. If he'd have stuck with baseball, he would have succeeded. When he chose Butler because he wanted to be a coach, I knew he'd go there and succeed. And now that it's his moment to have the ball, I can't be shocked that he's delivering. Barlow said his focus has long shifted from that big moment vs. Indiana to the bigger ones ahead. Butler again looms as the kind of team no one wants to play later this season, and Barlow said that's both an exciting thought and one that carries a heavy responsibility. "People talk about Butler's magic, and what's happened here is impressive, but it's not really magic," Barlow said. "It's doing things the right way. There are no shortcuts. We're not always the most athletic, most impressive team. It's attention to detail and believing it's going to work."
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: Bubba Watson's caddie owns heckler at PGA Championship

NFL denies sending Donald Trump letter about schedule

Michael Bennett calls out NFL stars for not speaking up on social matters

Nationals make astute move in acquiring Melancon

Son of former NFL player Antonio Armstrong charged with death of parents

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

U.S. Senator “appalled” by Bettman’s stance on concussions

Team USA’s Opening Ceremony uniforms look a little treasonous

Lawyer who reps concussion lawsuit wants to speak with Bettman

Tyler Eifert says he will never play in the Pro Bowl again

Australian athletes evacuate the Olympic village after fire

Russian weightlifting team banned from Rio

Texans GM 'disappointed' in DeAndre Hopkins

Can Andre Johnson end his regression in Tennessee?

Favre opens up about painkiller addiction during career

Miami women’s basketball coach criticizes Texas A&M following slideshow

Twin Cities preparing for influx of sex trafficking during Super Bowl LII

WATCH: Bautista bat flip will be available as NHL 17 celebration

Former USMNT, current MLS forward Davies battled cancer, in remission

The definitive guide to U.S. Men's Basketball at Rio 2016

Tony Romo training camp picture leads to fat jokes, concern

Matt Cullen’s family eats cereal out of the Stanley Cup

Texas A&M suspends coaches for sexist slideshow

10 most dangerous college football defenders in 2016

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker