Growing Up ... Alonzo Gee

They’ve always had talent, but what were the Cavaliers like before they became rich and gigantic and famous?

If there’s one player on the Cavaliers roster that isn’t ready for the regular season to end, it’s starting forward Alonzo Gee. The uber-athletic Gee has scored in double-figures in each of the last eight games, averaging 12.1 points per game and shooting 60 percent from the floor during that stretch. (He’s also at an even 60 percent from three-point range [9-for-15] in those games.)

Part of the Cavaliers’ youth movement, Gee – who was the D-League’s Rookie of the Year last season – doesn’t turn 24 until late May.

In today’s installment of Growing Up, the soft-spoken former Alabama star talks about his first sports love, his most inspirational coach coming up and, naturally, his first dunk …

I grew up in … Riviera Beach, Florida. It’s near Palm Beach and it’s pretty nice. It’s like five minutes from the beach. We all used to run over there to the beach.

I have … one brother and one sister. My brother played football.

I also played … football. It was my first sport I ever played. That was my love – football. But my brother actually made me switch to basketball, because he played football and he saw how it was. And he didn’t want me to go through the things he went through.

In football … I played everywhere. I was wide receiver, defensive end, linebacker. Everywhere. I played all the tall guy positions.

My most inspirational coach growing up was … my high school basketball coach by the name of Fred Ross. And I still talk to him to this day. He helps me out a lot.

Coach Ross stayed on me … and he always believed in me. In high school, he told me I could play in the NBA if I work hard and kept my work ethic up.

I knew I had a chance at the NBA … in my senior year, when I won (the second of) back-to-back state championships.

I was the team’s … top player in my senior year. But in my junior year, when we won it, we had a couple of other guys who were really, really good.

Choosing Alabama was … a tough process for me because I wanted to play right away. It was tough because I had wanted to go to Florida. I even looked at Miami. I looked at a lot of schools and a lot of schools looked at me.

I was just trying … to go somewhere where I could play right away. And I did that when I went to Alabama.

My first dunk … was in middle school, actually. It was something that I always did at the park. We used to go to the park and dunk and things like that. But my first game dunk, it was very exciting for me.

The gym went … crazy when I did. It was middle school, so the place went nuts. It was on a breakaway. It’s wasn’t no crazy dunk. It was more like a tip-dunk, but it was very fun for me.

It’s still … fun. I like dunking.