Five years ago, Jose Alvarado was named CHSAA Player of the Year, turning heads at Christ the King High School in Middle Village. Now the Brooklyn native is on his way to a NBA career, recently signing a two-way contract with the Pelicans.
“When I first met him I thought he was a win at all cost player, the ones I love,” said Christ the King head coach Joe Arbitello. “I knew he would be successful at whatever he chose to do. It’s not a surprise to me he’s in the NBA.”
Alvarado was a four-star recruit out of high school, landing at Georgia Tech under head coach Josh Pastner. In his first year he averaged 12 points, the fourth most by a GT freshman.
By his senior year, Alvarado was averaging 15.2 points and 2.8 steals, a tough player on both sides of the ball. He was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year as Georgia Tech finished 4th in the conference before making a run for the ACC championship.
“Jose is a hard worker, a real hard-nosed individual,” said Pastner. “Coaches love guys like him. He does all the little things to help you win games, fights for every 50/50 ball. That’s what made him Defensive Player of the Year and back-to-back steals leader, the first in the ACC since Chris Paul.”
Up five in the final seconds of the championship game, Alvarado sealed the title with a steal and assist.
“This is why I work my butt off,” said an emotional Alvarado after the game. “A lot of people doubted me. I wasn’t supposed to be in the ACC, but coach took a chance on me,”
Not many players in his situation end up in the NBA, but on draft night, Alvarado knew he had a chance.
“I worked out for 17 different teams and honestly I didn’t know who was going to pick me,” said Alvarado. “I knew the chances of getting drafted were pretty low, but as the process went I started to feel that this might happen, I might get my name called. When I got the phone call it was a dream come true, like a number one pick for me.”
While he didn’t end up picked in the top 60, Alvarado was a part of the Pelicans’ draft day plans. They kept a keen eye on him as they dealt their final pick of the draft, later picking up the Yellow Jackets star.
New Orleans was one of the most comfortable pre-draft workouts for Alvarado, who kept busy in the months leading up to the draft.
“It felt really good,” he said. “They welcomed me with open arms and good energy. It was a good fit, not forced or anything, one of my best workouts easily.”
In the NBA Summer League, Jose took the floor looking to prove he belonged on the roster. In his five games, he did exactly that, leading the team in steals, blocks, and rebounds per game while finishing second in points and assists.
Alvarado’s energy was contagious and he remained confident as ever on the ball. While he has plenty of growth to do, he got valuable experience to learn the speed of the game.
With his NBA career on the horizon, Alvarado still looks back to his time hooping in his hometown.
“New York is always gonna be my home, when I go to Christ the King, they’re always gonna be my family. They show so much love because they were there with me. My story’s different from a lot of others because not a lot of guys like me get a chance to make it. Where I’m from, that’s never happened.”
Alvarado’s stats may not pop off of the box score, but his effort, dedication, and heart certainly stand out on the court. He knows his role and he does it well. Whether starting, coming off the bench, or training with the team, the Pelicans are lucky to have Alvarado on board.
“I’m 6-foot on a good day, don’t have the craziest length, I can’t jump up and jam, don’t have the best jump shot, but I give my heart out and I’ll give it my all every time,” he said. “I play like I’m 7-foot and I play like I’m jumping out of the gym.”