A basketball life: Senior Christian Alexander’s love for the sport has influenced many things in his life

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 1, 2024

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By Jay Spivey 

For the Clemmons Courier

The West Forsyth boys’ basketball team is having a very successful season, and one of the many reasons for it is how the team has gelled.

And if you take an even bigger dive into the team, you’ll see key role players like senior Christian Alexander.

Alexander, a 6-foot, 160-pound guard, may not get much playing time, but he’s just what the doctor ordered for the Titans.

As of Tuesday morning, West Forsyth was 14-4 overall and 6-2 in the Central Piedmont 4-A. Alexander, playing his second season on the varsity at West Forsyth has settled into his role as a key player off the bench. Alexander is averaging, according to MaxPreps.com, 8.8 minutes per game, 3.3 points per game, and 1.8 rebounds per game.

“A lot of time it’s not (easy to come off the bench), but it just pushes me harder,” Alexander said. “There will be times where I know I won’t be getting in, but when I go home, I just say, ‘I’ve got to get better.’

“And I’ve just got to keep showing up and proving to the coaches that I can get better and that I can show up for them.”

According to Alexander, his first time in the rotation is usually in the second quarter.

“I try to stay sane even though it’s hard sometimes, but also, I know that I can’t have that type of mentality,” he said. “I know that I need to pick up my teammates and keep working.”

Coach Marlon Brim, who is in his second season as head coach of the boys team at West Forsyth after coming over from Atkins, has seen plenty of growth in Alexander despite his diminutive size.

“He’s gotten bigger. He’s gotten stronger. I think he’s gotten more confident in his game. And we’ve seen him grow as a player.” Brim said of Alexander. “So, from last year to this year I think he’s grown 70-80% better than what he was.”

Alexander’s mentality has seeped into the success of the Titans.

“I think he’s a great team player,” Brim said. “A game or two, he may not get in, but some days he’ll get in and give us a spark. He still cheers; he still has the same smile on his face, still comes in every day, and works hard. Knowing to have a good program you’ve got to have kids like that.

“So, I really love Christian. I think he’s done great things in the last two years. I wish I had him another year. So, I think he’s going to do very well in life.”

With six games remaining in the regular season for West Forsyth, Alexander’s stats have incrementally increased since last season, his first season on the varsity team. Last season, Alexander, according to MaxPreps.com, averaged 7.5 minutes per game, 1 point per game, and 2.3 rebounds per game.

“I think the last two years is where I’ve had a bigger gap of getting better for basketball, especially from that junior year to senior year I would just be in the gym every single day at RISE,” he said. “…It helped me out a lot because I was there every single day from like 12 p.m. to like 5 p.m. just getting better, working, hard – skill work and playing pick-up with better people.”

Brim has seen Alexander’s work ethic on a daily basis.

“I just think his athleticism,” Brim said. “He’s very athletic. He’s a tough kid. He plays with a lot of energy. So, I think those things are his best attributes as a basketball player.”

Much of what Alexander has to offer as a player and a person comes from growing up and facing whatever curveball is thrown his way. He was born in Jacksonville, N.C., and moved to Alabama when, according to him, was 6 or 7 years old. He then moved here when he was 11.

Through the moves to different states and cities at a tender age, his love for basketball became even stronger. He started playing basketball when he was 5, playing for his local YMCA team.

“I realized I started to get better, so I started to take it more serious,” Alexander said.

All the hard work that Alexander started paying off when he moved here. He went to Quality Education Academy, where he attended from sixth through ninth grade, played on the middle-school team there in eighth grade, and then played on the JV team there in his freshman year of high school.

“That’s when I started taking it really serious,” he said.

A good student now, Alexander said he struggled with math growing up. He said his grades improved at QEA with the smaller classes, but he transferred to West Forsyth, a much bigger school, before his sophomore year, and his grades improved even more.

A bigger reason his grades might have improved was that he was allowed to play basketball until his grades improved. He started playing at QEA in eighth grade.

“I wanted to play basketball, and I didn’t want to wait that long,” Alexander said. “I couldn’t go to tryouts that year (seventh grade), so I wanted to push more.”

Just making the team in eighth grade at QEA wasn’t enough.

“When I made it, I was happy and all, but I knew I still needed to work harder because I wasn’t getting the PT (playing time) I wanted,” Alexander said.

His grades improved, too. Alexander said his math grade jumped from a D to a C+.

“Basketball was what I needed to get better,” he said. “I got better through that summer, but after ninth grade, when I transferred to West, I knew I needed to get even more better.”

Alexander knew it was going to be a challenge transferring to West Forsyth, be it in basketball and in the classroom.

“I was thinking that I wanted to go to West Forsyth because I wanted to go like a bigger and just a bigger school with more people, more people to interact with,” he said.

Not knowing but one person at West Forsyth when he transferred, Alexander, was truly a fish out of water when he transferred to West Forsyth.

“It was (difficult) because my main childhood years I had those good friends at QEA,” he said. “But also, I knew that I had move on at some point. And it wasn’t that bad here, so I kind of enjoy it here.”

Although he didn’t play for Kevin King, then the boys varsity basketball coach at West Forsyth, King resigned after Alexander’s sophomore season on the JV team there. In comes Brim, who had previously coached at Atkins.

“I thought that everybody had equal opportunity (with the coaching change), but I had to do more to show the new coach that I had to get better, and I deserved PT,” Alexander said.

Alexander didn’t know Brim at all.

“He told me to just keep working, and I just kept showing up,” Alexander said.

That is pretty much how Brim remembers their meeting each other.

“Athletic kid, who could help us,” Brim said. “(He) just needed a year to get better.”
Brim just might’ve been the perfect coach for Alexander.

“He’s well respected, a great kid. Teachers love him, so overall, I think he’s a great young man,” Brim said. “Once you get a kid and you find out that he wants to do better, and he wants to be a better person, then as a coach, we’ll help anybody. But that gives you a little bit more incentive to want to help him even more because, you know, he wants to do something with his life.”

At least from Alexander’s perspective, their relationship goes beyond coach and player.

“Probably like a coach and mentor, both because anytime I show up, like morning workouts and all that stuff, pushes me and tells me what I should and should not do,” Alexander said. “Just more experience.”

For Brim, that’s flattering to hear that a player feels that way about him as a coach.

“I think that kids see that basketball is important – I have to do these things to play basketball or get a chance to play basketball – then I think they set goals different,” Brim said. “That’s not just us as coaches talking, but that’s also us having a conversation, like a one-on-one conversation actually what you want to do, where you see yourself in four years. And how can we help you get there?’

According to Alexander, his jumped to a 2.8

“I don’t know if he told you, but I’m constantly on him and all the guys about their academics,” Brim said. “That’s something I always want them to think about even when he goes to college, ‘Hey, Coach Brim, always check my grades.’ So, I need to be on point with my academics.'”

No matter how the season ends for the Titans in the next month, Alexander will have to start thinking about college when he graduates in June, whether he plays in college or not.

He would like to go to HBCU’s like N.C. A&T, his first choice, or N.C. Central. Brim said that Alexander has already been accepted at Winston-Salem State, another HBCU. In addition, he’s been accepted at UNC Greensboro and is looking at UNC Charlotte.

“(A&T) is an HBCU that I want to go to,” Alexander said. “And I just know a lot of people that have been there that are successful and an influence.”