Reputations in college basketball have a special meaning for William Alexander.
Alexander is trying to build a reputation--not for himself but for Division II basketball.
At that level, Alexander's own reputation is already established at Cal State Dominguez Hills, where he needs only 26 points to eclipse the scoring record of 1,551 points in the California Collegiate Athletic Assn.
It's the respect of the players in the Inglewood Pro-Am summer league--consisting mostly of Pac-10 players and other Division I athletes--that concerns Alexander.
"Most of them think that they're so much better than the players at Division II schools," Alexander said.
"I like them as (people) and I have a lot of good friends in the league, but I don't like their attitudes towards Division II basketball."
Alexander himself gained attention by leading the Pro-Am league in scoring last summer, outgunning UCLA's Reggie Miller and Pooh Richardson in the process.
"Pooh is a good friend and helps me see things from a point guard's perspective," Alexander said.
Alexander, at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, is not a point guard. He is a forward and post moves, not jump shots, are his forte.
An all-city selection as a senior at Washington High School in Los Angeles, Alexander scored most of his 17 points per game inside the paint. Fresno State, Long Beach State, Pepperdine and Idaho came calling.
However, Alexander said, Toros' Coach Dave Yanai was the reason he chose Dominguez Hills and Division II basketball.
"He didn't send his assistants to talk with me," Alexander said of Yanai. "He came himself and told me how he wanted to work with me. I was convinced that CSUDH was the place for me."
But, Alexander says, after his freshman year when he averaged 14 points per game, a lot of friends said: "Go Division I, go Division I."
"I told them I was happy here," Alexander said. "As long as you're happy and satisfied, nothing else matters."
Had Early Doubts
There was a time when Alexander had his doubts at Dominguez Hills.
Usually, about 400 spectators attend basketball games at Cal State Dominguez Hills, which is located in Carson and has an enrollment of 7,200.
"My freshman year, the low attendance bothered me because in high school I played before a packed gymnasium," Alexander said. "Coach Yanai told me that I wasn't playing for them, but for us, and once I had that attitude, the attendance didn't bother me.
"Students here need to recognize their athletic teams more. I don't see how anyone can go to school everyday, walk in, past and around the gym and not know the school has a basketball team."
Alexander, a communications major, said that when he is through playing basketball, he would like a job that deals with people.
"I'd like to be a deejay or maybe do some police work," Alexander said. "I listen to deejays and how they handle things.
"When I'm not playing basketball, I like to listen to music and sing. It helps me relax. You know, I listen to the radio all the time, even when I go to sleep--if it gets cut off, I'll wake up."
Alexander says he uses music as a "weapon" before games.
"I get a tune I've heard earlier in the day and sing it to myself to keep a steady tempo," he said.
Model of Consistency
Alexander's consistency is his best asset: He has gunned for double figures in 80 of his 98 games as a collegian. He had a 30-game scoring streak in double figures snapped in a 63-59 home loss to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on Jan. 17.
Alexander, the conference's leading scorer with a 20.4 average, is sure to become a four-time all-conference pick.
A modest Alexander says he never thought he would become as good as he has but his mother had faith in him.
"She tells me before games to play hard, but she doesn't watch me play because I'm one of those wild guys on the court and she doesn't want to see me get hurt."
Alexander credits his coach "for bringing out the best in me as a player and person."
But Coach Yanai replies, "William works hard and deserves all the credit for the success he's achieved."
Of greater importance in Alexander's eyes is the fact that the Toros are off to their best start in the school's history at 13-5. And Alexander deserves much of the credit--although he is reluctant to agree.