Alexa Middleton, former girls’ basketball standout at Riverdale High School, recently completed her third professional season overseas.
After playing in Damligan, a league in Sweden for two years, last season she played in LF2, a league in France, for Champagne.
The first season didn’t go too well as she played for the Visby Ladies, who finished 2-16 and in last place in the league.
However, Middleton led the team in scoring, averaging nearly 19 points a game and was second in rebounding with six a game. She says after a season like that it makes one appreciate the success.
“It does make you appreciate winning,” Middleton said of her first season overseas. “We would only practice once a day in a tiny high school gym and sometimes at 8 or 9 o’clock at night.”
Middleton said despite the poor record, the fan support was great.
“We had one of the nicest arenas in the league and it was on an island, so we did have good crowds at our games.”
Middleton knew one of her teammates while playing for Visby in Jaycee Coe, the two time Class A Miss Basketball in 2013 and 2014 from Jackson County High School.
“There were five or six of us on the team that lived in a house during the season,” Middleton said. “They had another American player that was on the team and she decided not to play, so she left and I called up Jaycee. She went to Atlanta and got a passport and flew to Sweden to be on the team.”
The second season she played for Eos in the same league. They were more successful and made the playoffs before being eliminated by Lulea Basket in the first round, best-of-three series.
With Eos, she shot 80 percent from the free-throw line and only missed 25 free throws in 22 games. She upped her scoring average to 21 points per game and had her career high in a game against Mark where she had a double-double with 30 points and 12 rebounds.
Last season, she put up more impressive numbers with Champagne as they finished 13-9 and made the LF2 playoffs.
Middleton averaged 13 points, four rebounds and four assists a game. She had a 24-point game that includes six 3-pointers against SIG
Her team was eliminated by La Tronche, who had the same regular season record as Champagne but played for the championship against the top-seed Toulouse. They were upset in the opening round of the playoffs.
During Middleton’s high school career, Riverdale was very successful and she was named Class AAA Miss Basketball in 2014. She also played in three state championship games, winning two. Her senior year, Riverdale was eliminated by Blackman in the regional semifinals as the Lady Blaze went on to win the Class AAA state title that season.
Her senior year was also highlighted by being named a McDonald’s All-American and playing with the best prep players in America on ESPN.
“We got to stay there in Chicago for a week as we did several different activities,” she said. “We went to the Ronald McDonald House. Stephen A. Smith of ESPN spoke at our banquet and that was great.”
She signed with the University of Tennessee to be a Lady Vol, but transferred to the Big 12 to play for Iowa State.
“It has always been a dream of mine to play professional ball,” Middleton said of transferring from Tennessee. “It wasn’t about the playing time at Tennessee, but I wanted to go somewhere where I would have more responsibility.”
When she left home for the first time to report to her team, she was nervous but knew it was what she had to do to further her career.
“I had a fear of flying (because of) the long flight and also being at night,” Middleton said. “You talk with other players on the team before you leave, and I just knew it was what I had to do.”
Middleton has signed with Feytiat for the upcoming basketball season.
“The market is oversaturated right now at my guard position, and the fact that Russia and Ukraine are not going to have professional leagues next year, I feel fortunate to have signed with them,” Middleton said.
Feytiat played in the third tier French league this past season, and by winning the championship in that league will move up to LF2, which is where Middleton played last season.
For her play this past season, Middleton was named All-French LF2 first team.
“This is my first time making all-league, and I was really surprised to be on the team,” she said. “I got honorable mention my second year in Sweden, but I was really grateful to make this team.”