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Faith, family and basketball: Nevada's Nia Alexander wants to change to the world

Nia Alexander
Nia Alexander has been a standout for Nevada the last two seasons. (David Calvert/Nevada athletics)

Nia Alexander, remember the name. A trailblazer on and off the court, Alexander wants to change the world, using her faith to guide her.

“I'm a very passionate person," Alexander said. "I really am. I'm passionate about making the world a better place. That's why I'm pursuing after this year. I'm graduating with an MBA and specialization in renewable energy. And next semester, I want to get a certificate on sustainability management. I really want to work with businesses to become sustainable and cut down on carbon emissions so we can live longer so we don't have to continue with these climate changed-cause catastrophes.

"That's why I'm really passionate about. I'm really passionate about God and using his word to become a better person. That's really what's sustained me through all this adversity, like during COVID, or even just transferring here. I'm really passionate about that as well.”

Alexander is one of two seniors on the Wolf Pack women's basketball team. She transferred from University of San Francisco after her junior season and was a key cog for Nevada last season, and one of the few rotation players to return to the team. She's had a breakout senior season, averaging 9.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game as Nevada has finished the season with five straight wins to secure a bye in the upcoming Mountain West Tournament.

“I was going to go anywhere just because I was transferring for basketball reasons,” Alexander said. “I wanted to go to a different school. But here, I appreciate it, how it was so different. I wanted a different experience, ya know? I was in the city, so I was, like, I want to feel like a college campus feels like. Where the community really supports you. So I'm grateful. I got to and I get to continue.”

It’s a completely different Nevada team this year as eight players either quit or transferred from the time Alexander arrived. Nia explained she wasn’t quite sure what she got herself into after joining a team with lots of unresolved issues. But she's persevered through that.

“It's definitely different in my opinion,” Alexander said. “I think the culture has improved just because I feel like we're on the same page as far as team to coach. I think there's a lot of turmoil before that I kind of walked into. And I can't I can't really speak on other's experiences. I'm sure they're valid, you know, very understandable. However, for me coming in, it was kind of, like, ‘Oh, my gosh, what is this like? What's going on?’ It was definitely a culture shock for me.”

But Nevada's culture has improved over the last several months, with the Wolf Pack having its best season since coach Amanda Levens' first on campus when Nevada reached the MW Tournament championship game before reaching the WBI's semifinals.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NCAA granted students an extra year of eligibility to play their sport and Alexander says she plans to exercise that opportunity. As her final year approaches with the Wolf Pack, the senior has big plans after she's done playing.

“I'm hoping to play overseas for at least a year,” Alexander said. “I want to play in London, just putting it out there and then afterwards, like, if I could live in California, that's where I want to be eventually.”

Basketball genes run in the family for the Alexander’s as Nia’s mother, Diane Williams, played collegiately at Washington as well as overseas in Spain. Her father, Corey Alexander, was Nia’s high school coach. Her younger sister, Aaliyah, is a freshman at Eastern Washington.

“I watch her games online and it's fun watching her," Alexander said. "I'm excited to see how she does, especially with this year not counting. She can get her feet wet and not really, high blood pressure yet. So I'm excited for her. I love to give her a lot of advice, but I think the biggest thing that I tell her is to not be too hard on yourself, just have a process mindset. Whatever mistakes you make, just learn from them and know that you have to continue to work hard. It's going to benefit you and you're going to be successful. So that's what I try to remind her.”

With the conference tournament on the horizon, Alexander is excited to prove how far the Wolf Pack has come from the last time it played in this event. Nevada's five-game winning streak means it's playing good ball heading into the tournament.

" It's a momentum starter for sure," Alexander said. "And, me personally, I've never really cared about what others say like as far as the rankings. I don't even look at those. I don't even trip off of those because at the end of the day, it's about who steps on the floor, who's going to play the hardest. So those things, it’s, like, ‘OK, you picked us last. I could(n't) care less.' At the end of the day, it's up to us and it's, you know, it can be anybody. So I'm excited for the tournament.”

As the senior enters the MW Tournament and her final season with Nevada, Alexander is using her faith to guide her.

“My biggest role model is the Lord," Alexander said. "Of course, there are people who have been really influential in my life, like my parents. I'm very close with them. I feel like a lot of my mindset is because of them. I have a lot of people that have benefited me, but I kind of just look to God for a lot of my strength and my composure and my mindset as well. I feel like with him, I can do all things, you know, like it says. And that's how I just continue to try to be a better person and better.”

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