Special Report: Hometown Hero Alex Stein
EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - The accolades are still coming for Alex Stein.
He captured the GLVC Paragon Award on Thursday, which is given to the top male and female student-athlete throughout the entire conference. He’s the first Screaming Eagle to win the award since 2005.
Alex led University of Southern Indiana to a Final Four, played in his hometown of Evansville. But to truly understand the magnificence of this moment, you must go way back.
Alex was born a Screaming Eagle. His father, Rick, is a two-year starter for USI in the 80's and has been the women's basketball coach for as long as Alex has been alive.
Growing up, USI was Alex's second home. At practice and on the sidelines, Alex was always right next to his dad.
As a west sider, Alex went on to star at Reitz High School. Despite growing up in the gym, he didn't stand out right away.
An incredible basketball career that led Alex to the offer to stay at home.
“Everything happens for a reason,” said Rick. “I firmly believe it whatever it was, it happened for a great reason because it worked out really good for him."
“I would've been completely fine going out of the state or anywhere else, but USI was definitely the best fit for me,” Alex said. “It was a dream come true, just to be able to put that jersey on and play here. It turned out a whole lot differently than I would've expected."
A three-time captain, an exclusive member of the 2,000-point club, and the program's first academic All-American but that wouldn't be enough.
“It hit me before the game, I'm like, 'Wow, this is the last time I'll ever play here.’"
A tie game with second seconds left, but Alex knew just what to do.
“Honestly, I knew I was going to shoot it,” he said.
If that sounds like the perfect ending, let's go back to where we started.
Alex and the Screaming Eagles returned to Evansville after winning a mid-west regional championship to play on the biggest stage of college basketball; In front of a record home crowd, Alex set a record of his own.
“To come out leading scorer, I just never had that expectation.”
Alex's 2,219 points broke a 32-year-old record to cement his legacy as USI’s all-time leading scorer.
“Individually, I just exceeded expectations for myself."
USI's storybook season ended in the Final Four, although it wasn't the ending Alex imagined.
“Obviously we want to win a national championship but by the end, it was like, 'Man this was special,’ for the community, for USI, and for us."
“Role models, especially good ones, are hard to find anymore it seems like and I think Alex has always taken it seriously," said Rick.
But it's not the sport that he loves that Alex wants to be remembered by.
“My life’s bigger than basketball and life overall is bigger than basketball. I don’t want to just be remembered for basketball. I want to be remembered as a high character guy."
The sport of basketball hasn’t seen the last of USI’s all-time leading scorer. Alex told us he has officially signed with an agent with plans to play professionally overseas.
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