Pierce family's competitive nature runs deep

  • Glenbard West graduate Justin Pierce played basketball at William & Mary and the University of North Carolina.

    Glenbard West graduate Justin Pierce played basketball at William & Mary and the University of North Carolina. Daily Herald file photo

  • Glenbard West graduate Alec Pierce is the leading receiver returning for the University of Cincinnati.

    Glenbard West graduate Alec Pierce is the leading receiver returning for the University of Cincinnati. Daily Herald file photo

  • Justin Pierce

    Justin Pierce

  • Alec Pierce

    Alec Pierce

Updated 5/27/2020 7:28 PM

Four Division I athletes under one roof -- a fifth might be on his way -- and how did the Pierce family spend its time the last two months?

Card playing, Catan, Rummikub, video games and a lone Monopoly showdown. Unfortunately the competitive spirit could handle only so much of the famed board game.


Oh ... and a whole bunch of working out and some pickup basketball.

It's strange times indeed, and not only because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding stay-at-home order. With Glenbard West graduates Justin and Alec Pierce unexpectedly home from college, the most athletic family in Glen Ellyn is enjoying a rare reunion.

"It's great," Justin said. "We're never all together. My mom did the math, and I think all five of us have been together less than two weeks in the last two years."

Justin, a 2016 Glenbard West graduate and Daily Herald DuPage County All-Area Basketball Captain, just finished a season playing at the University of North Carolina as a graduate transfer from William & Mary, where he was a two-time all-Colonial Athletic Association selection.

Alec, who graduated from Glenbard West in 2018 after being named the West Suburban Silver Conference football player of the year, was four days into spring ball preparing for his junior season at the University of Cincinnati when he was forced to return home.

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The third and youngest son of Greg and Stephanie Pierce, Caden, started on the Hilltoppers' varsity basketball team as a sophomore last season. Like his oldest brother, Caden likely will play basketball at college ... especially if his brothers have any say in the matter.

"I've been working out with him, getting him in shape," Alec said. "Trying to put some pounds on him."

Few high school players were as prepared for college as Justin and Alec Pierce.

Their father was a football player at Northwestern and their mother played volleyball for the Wildcats. Despite multiple college offers for both brothers, they failed to attract attention from the big-time programs.

It left a chip on their shoulders that served as motivation.

After Justin averaged 15 points and 9 rebounds his junior season at William & Mary, he received graduate transfer offers from the nation's top basketball programs before choosing the Tar Heels over Notre Dame and Michigan.


North Carolina struggled last season, but Pierce averaged 5 points and 4 rebounds as the team's sixth man.

"I never thought in my wildest dreams that North Carolina would offer me a scholarship and I'd play for coach (Roy) Williams and put on the jersey that so many greats had put on before," he said. "I knew if North Carolina offered me a spot, it was going to take the world to turn that down."

Alec boasted nearly 20 scholarship offers as he waited for Big Ten programs to come around. They never did, but he found a home by committing to Cincinnati.

Despite not playing much offense as a freshman receiver, Alec stood out on special teams to the point where the coaches considered him at linebacker. But following a breakout performance during spring ball, Alec solidified his spot as a starting receiver for his sophomore year.

Last season Alec snared 37 passes for a team-high 652 yards and 2 touchdowns. He'll be the team's most-experienced receiver heading into the fall.

"It's been great to rest and rejuvenate, but I'll be ready to attack it when we get back this summer," Alec said. "I'm just waiting for them to let us know when we can come back."

With time on their hands they've thought about their futures and similar goals.

Justin is well on his way to completing his MBA from North Carolina, but he's hired an agent and next season plans to play professionally in Europe. If Alec continues his trajectory at Cincinnati, he'll soon be courting opportunities to play professional football.

Of course, that would mean even less time for the Pierce family to spend together. It's another reason why they've appreciated the last couple of months.

Might even be time to break out that Monopoly board again.

"We're fortunate that everyone in our family and extended family has been healthy throughout all this," Justin said. "It was nice having everyone back and safe under one roof."

Twitter: @kevin_schmit

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