Big man Alvarez starting to play big for Greensburg Central Catholic boys

Monday, February 27, 2023 | 6:46 PM

Always the tallest kid on his basketball teams growing up, 6-foot-5 Franco Alvarez has enjoyed the view from above.

“I’ve been tall forever,” the junior forward from Greensburg Central Catholic said. “It wasn’t like I had this big growth spurt. I’ve just grown a little bit every year. I don’t know when I will top off.

“Being 6-5 has its advantages. I can reach the top shelf in the grocery store.”

He also can take over games for the Centurions (17-5), who have reached the WPIAL Class 2A semifinals for the third time in four years.

The fourth seed, GCC will play No. 1 Aliquippa (18-6) on Tuesday night at West Allegheny for the right to go to the finals Saturday at Pitt’s Petersen Events Center.

Alvarez scored a career-high 33 points Friday in a 73-54 win over Eden Christian, making 14 of 17 shots as GCC worked the ball around in transition.

Like he has been all season, Alvarez was the finisher.

(Humbly, he’ll tell you he is more the beneficiary of great set-ups by his guards).

“It was my teammates feeding me the ball,” he said. “I think I had 32 or 36 in a youth league game one time but, yes, that’s the most I’ve had in high school.”

Alvarez is shooting an impressive 68% from two-point range (151 for 223) and has connected on four 3-pointers. He is averaging 16.9 points and 7.7 rebounds.

A North Huntingdon resident, Alvarez is named after Pittsburgh Steelers great Franco Harris. GCC players have given him quite the reception.

“He’s the best big man in the WPIAL,” said teammate and fellow starter Ryan Kimmel, a senior forward. “He is starting to play more aggressive. We go at it in practice.”

An articulate, highly rated student, Alvarez also has court smarts. He scores in the flow of games, with his interest more on running out on breaks than mixing it up around the rim.

He isn’t camping out on the low block unless GCC faces a zone.

He has stepped out and made mid-range jumpers. He buried a 3-pointer in the first round against Propel Braddock Hills.

But his colleagues still seem to want more from him because they think he has another level to reach.

“He still has another year,” Kimmel said. “Him and (junior guard) Tyree (Turner).”

Alvarez had 21 points — 13 in the the Centurions’ 33-point third quarter — in a 65-45 win over Propel Braddock Hills.

He had 10 in the second quarter Friday as GCC racked up 26 points to build a 12-point halftime lead.

It is the knack for big-volume quarters that make Alvarez stand out. He scored 14 in one frame against Jeannette earlier in the season in section play.

A mature voice at times, Alvarez emerged from the locker room Friday night at Fox Chapel and was offered a pepperoni roll by a teammate.

“Come on now, guys,” he said, referring to the fact it was a meatless Friday during Lent.

“He’s just such a good kid,” GCC coach Christian Hyland said. “He’s a gentle giant. We have been on him since his sophomore year to be more aggressive because we think he can take over games.”

Alvarez might not be wired to throw elbows and “goon up” the other team’s best players. But maybe he doesn’t have to be.

“I have been hearing the be-aggressive thing for so long,” he said. “I feel like if I am focused and prepared mentally, I am ready to play and be at my best.

“The biggest key for us is running the floor and sharing the ball.”

Hyland played point guard for some good teams at GCC, but he appreciates having a post player of Alvarez’s ability.

“There aren’t a lot of true big men around much anymore,” Hyland said. “He just has really nice touch. He never drops it.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at or via Twitter .


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