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Monday, Sept. 15, 10:41 a.m.
Sports

Scotland native Fraser realizing dream playing basketball for UMaine

If you have been a fan of University of Maine men’s basketball the last three years you have become accustomed to seeing the 6-foot-7-inch, 235 pound forward from Scotland rumbling up and down the court.

Junior forward Alasdair Fraser has been a presence for the Black Bears and has developed into a leader. Coming off of a 2011-2012 campaign in which he averaged 12.9 points and 7.8 rebounds, he has picked up right where he left off, averaging 13.5 points and 9.5 rebounds this season. So how did Mr. Fraser find himself playing basketball in Orono?

Fraser was first discovered after his dominance in the FIBA U-18 European championships in which he scored 20.6 points per game and ranked fourth with 9.6 rebounds per game. He led his team to the Scottish League championship game after scoring 28 points, grabbing 16 rebounds and blocking three shots in the semi-finals. “Coach Leichner does a lot of recruiting and goes to the European championships every summer to get players and got my stats from the under 18 championships,” Fraser said of UMaine associate head coach Douglas Liechner. “He knew someone in Scotland and got in contact with me.”

Fraser was also offered scholarships from Wagner and Pepperdine, but felt the Black Bears would be his best fit.

“Everyone welcomed me here. It’s far from home, but it’s reasonably close compared to California,” said Fraser. “It was always kind of a dream to play in America, it was one of those things I never thought was going to happen, but I got better and it kept happening.”

Fraser started playing basketball after his dad’s best friend begged him to get on the hardwood. Fraser had to shed a few pounds before he was ready for the rigors of college basketball, but that was part of the appeal.

“I was fat when I was younger,” Fraser said. “I was really fat, but I started losing weight, lifting weights, got in shape, got better and better, and playing for the Scotland team really helped.”

Fraser put his love for basketball quite simply.

“Obviously no one wants to be overweight. I wanted to lose weight, when I started losing it I didn’t want to put it back on. I enjoyed being good at something and our club team never lost.”

Fraser came to UMaine and was instantly able to learn from senior leaders Troy Barnies and Sean McNally. After a year of weightlifting at the collegiate level, Fraser was ready to contribute in a big way for the Black Bears.

“We knew he was a talented player when he first got here, with a lot of potential, long arms. [He] knew how to play the game, knew how to score in the low post,” said UMaine head coach Ted Woodward. “After his freshman year I think there is a lot of things he learned in the course of that year — had some great leadership on that team that he was able to learn from.”

Fraser continues to put up great numbers and America East has taken notice. Fraser was named to cbssports.com’s Jeff Goodman’s Preseason All-America East Team and the America East Coaches Preseason All-America East Team.

“At the time he was going to be a sophomore, and we knew he was going to be in a key role for us,” Woodward said.He went out, worked on his body, lost 35 pounds, obviously had a great year last year, worked even more on his game, developed a consistent jumper and consistent free throw.”

If you get a chance, watch the big man play basketball. Fraser has mastered the jump hook and continues to slide by defenders with his quick drop step. The Black Bears are lucky to have him for two more years.