Jaden Alexander is no stranger to the recruitment process.
The Fairfield native went through it once during his decorated career at Vallejo-St. Patrick-St. Vincent, opted for the prep school route at Scotland Campus in Pennsylvania, earned himself a scholarship at New Mexico State, then transferred away after a chaotic season that left the Aggies' program in disarray.
He'll be hoping his third time getting recruited is the charm, as he announced his commitment to the Cal State Bakersfield men's basketball program last Wednesday. Alexander said he had kept in touch with Mike Scott, one of CSUB's assistant coaches, nearly every day since entering the portal.
“He was always calling me, just little things like that, building that relationship," Alexander said. "You kind of feel the love, instead of the 'like'-ness.”
That was the biggest lesson Alexander had learned from his previous two processes: Go where you're loved, and go there quickly.
“I just really enjoyed the things that they were telling me, (the) opportunity that I have," he said. "Obviously nothing’s given. I have to earn it.”
CSUB declined to comment on Alexander pending receipt of a signed and approved National Letter of Intent. (NCAA Division I Bylaw 126.96.36.199 limits member institutions' ability to comment on unsigned athletes.)
Alexander, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, enters a crowded group of guards for the Roadrunners. To hear him tell it, he's athletic, mentally tough, capable of defending multiple positions — in other words, he fits a familiar CSUB guard archetype. Certainly, his skill set also bears a resemblance to that of previously reported signee Cameron Wilbon; however, Wilbon enters as a sixth-year senior, whereas Alexander will be a redshirt freshman with four years to play.
Alexander did not play his first year at New Mexico State, as the program imploded around him. The Associated Press reported an all-encompassing story on the turmoil on March 3, three weeks after the school canceled the season. On a road trip in Albuquerque in November, NMSU forward Mike Peake exchanged gunfire with a man, Brandon Travis, who died from his gunshot wounds. As the team dealt with the fallout from the shooting, the program was again rocked by hazing allegations in February, which precipitated the cancellation of the season and firing of the head coach, Greg Heiar.
Alexander, who in his transfer portal announcement wrote he was leaving "due to unfortunate events," confirmed to The Californian that he was referring to "mostly those two situations" (the shooting and the hazing allegations).
“I don’t think you could have dreamed or had a nightmare about the stuff that happened," he said.
He'll be hoping for a fresh start as he moves from the Western Athletic Conference to the Big West Conference seeking his first collegiate action. It's the same switch CSUB itself completed in 2020. In both leagues, he said, "most teams, their record doesn’t display how good they are. I feel like anybody can be beaten any night.”
Returning to California also brings him closer to home, giving his family an opportunity to see him play more often — in a system that he also thinks suits him well.
"I’m truly excited to show the world what I can do," he said.
Reporter Henry Greenstein can be reached at 661-395-7374. Follow him on Twitter: @HenryGreenstein.