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Alize – Paying Hoop Dreams Forward

Alize – Paying Hoop Dreams Forward

Several years back, I was helping coach a very talented Loyalsock 8th grade basketball team. Datres, Little, Sosa, Baggett, Pastore and my son Jimmy were the mainstays on the roster. I had the pleasure of working with these boys since the time they were in third grade, and they looked forward to playing the best competition. We had a date circled late in the season when we were going to be matching up with Lycoming Valley.

Lyco Valley had a young man with great basketball skills. He made everybody around him better. He wasn’t the tallest guy on the team, average size at this point in time, but he could flat-out play the game. We prepared for the challenge, and the boys were looking forward to the matchup.

A couple of days prior to the game, it was brought to my attention this young man had a mishap on a bicycle. He had suffered a broken wrist and would not be able to play. It obviously took the luster off the upcoming ball game. My thoughts, as well as the teams’, turned to just hoping Alize healed up and was ready for next season.

Alize Johnson faced and answered every challenge growing up, and I emphasize growing up. After his days at Lyco Valley, he played his high school ball at St. John Neumann, where with each passing year Alize’s height seemed to grow right along with his ability. After a stellar career for the Golden Knights he moved right on up to D-I Missouri State to play college basketball, he never missed a beat.

His M.O. remained the same, he continued to grow, meet every challenge on and off the court, and approach it with a relentless work ethic. The one-time guard now had the height to play basically any position on the floor. He was now a big man that possessed great ball handling, passing and shooting skills. He had the quickness and agility of someone much smaller.

So much so that the 6’ 9” version of Alize Johnson was the 50th pick in the NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers. That’s a very quick overview of the amazing story that took Alize from Penn Street to the Pacers.

Now here’s the best part. As long as I’ve watched and known about Alize, he’s always been a better person than a basketball player. And that’s truly saying something. So it came as no surprise to me when I learned about his latest efforts.

Shortly after signing his name on the dotted line to play professional basketball, the young man created the Alize Johnson Foundation. A way to support and give back to his Williamsport community and create opportunities for others.

So here’s where we get to the big news, Alize will be investing $125,000 to develop a first-class outdoor basketball facility at Firetree Place, which is formally the Bethune Douglas Community Center. The project is named “WtaWtaW Basketball Courts.” That is short for a slogan Alize believes in and wants to stress to the community, “Where There is A Will, There is A Way.” Through his foundation, he wants to provide an opportunity for those with that will to do better and work hard to make themselves better by providing opportunity and guidance.

In talking with Jaron Bartholomew, Alize’s right-hand man and project director, it became clear that Firetree Place is the perfect location for the basketball facility. It is centrally located in Williamsport. Alize grew up playing on the outdoor courts at Flanigan Park and inside on the rubber court of the Bethune Douglas Community Center. There’s plenty of space for growth and for the youth of Williamsport to be provided much more than basketball by the good people of Firetree.

Construction is slated to begin immediately for “WtaWtaW Basketball Courts.” There will be three state-of-the-art outdoor basketball courts equipped with adjustable breakaway rims. The hoops can be lowered to 5’ 5” for the younger hoopsters. The facility will be completely fenced in, complete with benches, bleachers, and lights. They’re shooting for a June 1st grand opening and celebration.

This project and continued commitment to the Williamsport community will obviously take more than the start-up cost. The Alize Johnson Foundation is looking for business, corporate and individual sponsors to invest in a place where young people can put the cell phones and electronic devices down and play basketball. A place where the community can come together to celebrate youth and basketball. A place that can change lives for the good and provide an environment where a young person’s dream can be pursued and understood in the proper manner. If you are interested in being part of this effort, please reach out to Jaron Bartholomew 570-932-0262 or at

A tip of my Webb Weekly cap to PRN Home Health Services who donated $10,000. They played a huge role in getting this project “up off the ground.” And to Pepsi Bottling Group who gave $5,000.

We will have much more on the “WtaWtaW Basketball Court – Where There is A Will, There is A Way” project as it unfolds.

God Bless America.

Jim Webb

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