By Ben York, PhoenixMercury.com
Posted: Nov. 30, 2012
Alexis Hornbuckle ("Buck") has already become a Mercury fan-favorite for her intense,
leave-everything-on-the-court style of play.
Prior to Bucks visit to Phoenix in December, we thought it would be fun to catch up with the people who know
her best for unique insight on the five-year pro: Mickie DeMoss, Nikki Caldwell and the legendary Pat Summitt.
(DeMoss, now an assistant coach with the Indiana Fever, helped recruit Hornbuckle to Tennessee.)
DeMoss on recruiting Buck:
I liked her spirit. She could find the lighter side of things but still had a competitive edge. The first time I saw her play was when she was in 8 th grade at an AAU tournament in Louisiana. She reminded me of [five-time Olympian and Hall of Famer] Teresa Edwards. She was a big guard
that could play multiple positions and big guards are hard to come by.
Her favorite memories:
Her junior year against Texas A&M, she hit a deep three-pointer in front of Gary Blair to win the game for Tennessee. Another game against LSU,
she came up with a big rebound and got the put back for the game winner. She's not afraid. She seems to come up with big plays and isnt afraid to be
the hero or the goat.
Hornbuckles success in the WNBA:
This year in Phoenix, I was glad to see her get minutes. She played smarter and her game has caught up with the pros. Shes a risk taker; she gambles
and has a flare about her. She has all the tools and certainly knows how to play defense and rebound.
(Now coaching at LSU, Caldwell was an assistant coach under Pat Summitt at Tennessee during Hornbuckles college career.)
Caldwell on Hornbuckles versatility:
Shes a program changer. Shes always the best defender and can play multiple positions. We always put her on the best offensive player and she took
it as a challenge to shut them down. Shes flashy, but has the ability to control the basketball in the open floor. At Tennessee, she quickly learned
to adapt. She wanted to play point guard but Sade Wiley-Gatewood was there and then Shannon Bobbit came in. But she was always good at being a team
When she knew Hornbuckle was a leader:
Her senior year. During the season, we had just lost to LSU. Sylvia Fowles was having her way with Candace Parker and Parker was having a hard time
defending her. In the locker room, Pat [Summitt] was letting Candace know about it. Alexis stood up for Candace, spoke up, and asked Pat not to come
down so hard on her. She said that Candace would be fine and that the team had Candaces back. She took ownership in the locker room that day. I really
feel that that was a difference in the team coming together and going on to win the NCAA Championship.
The two Hornbuckle's:
There are two Hornbuckle's: One who can help get you there when she is playing off the ball, and the other who, when the game is on the line, you want
her to have the ball in her hand because she makes things happen.
Hornbuckle: soccer star?
What people might not know about Buck is that her first love was soccer. It really helped in her ability to react and defend.
On Bucks maturity:
With all the different roles shes had to play, shes had to mature quickly. If you knew her playing in AAU and high school, she commanded a packed
house and she was the star player. Now, shes not quite as flashy, but she has willingly accepted her roles. Shes won a title everywhere shes gone
AAU, high school, NCAA and WNBA. The kid knows how to win.
(Nobody knows Hornbuckle better than legendary coach Pat Summitt. Hornbuckle won two NCAA National Championships under Summitts leadership.)
Summitt on Hornbuckles intangibles:
Since I coached her, I know a lot about her. Shes full of life and always ready to play. She did whatever was asked of her. Now, Alexis is a great
leader and teammate. She loves the game, holds others accountable and plays hard. Ive always liked that about her.
Alexis has great qualities. She knew the game back then and still knows the game. More importantly, she's a hard worker. I always really liked her
intensity and how hard she played. I never had to worry about that. When she got to Tennessee, I found how many different positions she could play and
how versatile she was. Shes really grown up a lotand has a lot of tattoos. [laughs]