Elisabeth Alexander was all smiles Thursday when she made her commitment official to the CSU Stanislaus women’s basketball team.
Not long after signing her letter of intent inside Weston Ranch High’s main gym, she received a phone call from big brother Dylan. Moments later she was crying tears of joy.
“He’s my role model,” Elisabeth said of, Dylan, Weston Ranch’s all-time scoring leader who currently plays for Capser College in Wyoming after spending a year at San Jose State.
Elisabeth will be the last of three Alexander siblings to leave the nest and compete at the college level. The eldest, Griffin, played at UC Merced.
The youngest of the three set a milestone of her own Thursday; she is the first Weston Ranch girls basketball to sign to a four-year university while still in high school.
“She signed early and she’s happy about it, that’s the best part,” Weston Ranch coach Chris Bauer said. “You don’t want to go into your senior year with this still weighing on you. She’s a good kid and it’s nice to see her be awarded for the effort she put in.”
Second-year CSU Stanislaus head coach Wayman Strickland is glad to have her on board. Alexander averaged 12.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.4 steals and 2.9 blocks while leading Weston Ranch (19-9) to a runner-up finish in the Valley Oak League. The 5-foot-10 wing is ranked No. 35 on NorCalPreps’ Top-40 list for the Class of 2015.
“Lizzy is a great student-athlete and one of the best players in the Central Valley,” Strickland said. “We are so happy that she has decided to stay close to home and join our program. She has a great work ethic. Elisabeth wants to be great and works towards that goal non-stop. She embodies what a Stanislaus Warrior should be in the classroom and on the court.”
Alexander said Strickland’s persistence won her over. Utah State, Eastern Washington, Cornell and Cal State East Bay were among the others who expressed interest. CSU Stanislaus competes in the NCAA Division II California Collegiate Athletic Association.
“I always knew that I was going to go to Stanislaus if I wasn’t going to go (Division I),” Alexander said. “He’s been watching me since my freshman year, so I feel like I have a connection with him since he’s always been following me instead of a D-I school watching me for one summer and saying, ‘Hey, we like the way you shoot.’ He’s been there all along, watching me progress throughout high school.”
It also helps that the Warriors are on the rise. After going 2-25 in 2012-13, Strickland guided CSU Stanislaus to a 13-13 finish last year. The team returns four starters and includes two familiar names in 2011 Manteca High graduate Sharon Washington and 2007 East Union alumna Christin Gowan. Washington transferred from Chico State, while Gowan serves as assistant coach after a standout four-year career with the program.
“I wanted to go to a good basketball program knowing that they’re getting better every year, and I know I can bring a lot to the team and help,” Alexander said. “That factored into (the decision) a lot.”
“They have a really good nursing program and that’s going to be my major,” she added. “It’s a perfect fit for basketball and school.”
With her future now mapped out, Alexander wants to leave Weston Ranch a champion after the Cougars’ first VOL title eluded them late last season.
“I really want us to win league,” she said. “I want a (Sac-Joaquin Section) banner up there. I want us to be remembered.”