The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Graduate P Shaylee Ackerman (10) pitches during Texas A&Ms game against Valpo on Feb. 10, 2024 at Davis Diamond.
Holding down the house
February 22, 2024
Graduate P Shaylee Ackerman (10) pitches during Texas A&Ms game against Valpo on Feb. 10, 2024 at Davis Diamond.
Holding down the house
February 22, 2024

Like a young Pistol Pete’

Junior+guard+Alex+Caruso+led+the+SEC+in+assists+and+tied+for+first+in+steals+last+season.+Tanner+Garza%26%238212%3BTHE+BATTALION

Junior guard Alex Caruso led the SEC in assists and tied for first in steals last season. Tanner Garza—THE BATTALION

‘Alex is a weird, goofy dude.”
Texas A&M senior guard Jordan Green might be spot on about his teammate, Alex Caruso, the College Station native who also claims to be the king of Snapchat, Twitter and FIFA.
But if Caruso is all talk in those areas, he certainly isn’t when it comes to basketball. The junior point guard led the SEC in assists and steals last season and was named second-team preseason All-SEC Thursday.
Texas A&M basketball was implanted into Caruso’s brain as a toddler. His dad, Mike Caruso, was a huge influence in giving Alex a small taste of what it means to be an Aggie.
“My dad helped me out big time when I was little,” Alex said. “I got to work as the ball boy at all of the home basketball games for eight years. It was the coolest thing ever. When I watched people like DeAndre Jordan and Acie Law IV, I thought they were god.”
Mike Caruso, a California native, came to College Station in 1987 with his wife, who is from Nebraska. For the last eight years, he has been associate athletics director.
Alex has been able to observe the school he now attends through every lens of the microscope, one of the few players in basketball with such a peculiar experience.
“I’ve been able to see the full spectrum of things,” Alex said. “To be able to watch at such a young age, then be recruited and to then play is something that is very unique.”
Alex isn’t the only Caruso that can play a sport or two. His father played basketball for coaching legend Eddie Sutton at Creighton from 1967-1971. Mike Caruso’s daughters, Megan and Emily, competed in volleyball.
“Megan is a senior at A&M, while Emily is a freshman here,” Mike Caruso said. “They both competed for AAU teams in volleyball throughout high school. Emily was getting recruited by a few schools, but when she saw how hard Alex was working day after day, she decided not to. You really need to have a passion and produce blood, sweat and tears to play in college.”
Alex, the middle child, was born in College Station in 1994 and attended A&M Consolidated High School. Even though the Aggie War Hymn was a lullaby sung to him as an infant, it wasn’t the only option for Alex.
“It really came down to Colorado or A&M for Alex,” Mike Caruso said. “We tried to tell him to explore as many places as possible. I told him that he should compare what is different, and our family was really supportive of him.”
Instead of becoming a Buffalo, Alex decided to follow in his sister’s footsteps once again. As a freshman, he averaged more than five points and dished out more than three assists per game.
“I didn’t really come in with this attitude that I was going to have an immediate impact,” Alex said. “Things happened, and when I was called on to step up I just tried to come in and make things happen.”
At first, the 6-foot-5 point guard didn’t look like the player who would become Vine famous with dunks over Ole Miss’ Marshall Henderson.
“When Alex came on the team all of our first impressions were based on him being a hometown kid,” Green said. “He had braces and long straggly hair and kind of looked like a young Pistol Pete.”
The young Pistol Pete blossomed and progressed throughout his first year as an Aggie.
“We didn’t really know what to expect at first, but when he stepped on the court it was different,” Green said. “I remember me saying in open gym one time about how the ball just comes to his hands. He has a great feel for the game, and is like a magician out there. The game came too easy to him and he flowed really naturally.”
Alex again brought a spark for the Aggies in his sophomore season, averaging nine points per game. No. 21 was the SEC leader in assists (170) and steals (69). His hard work granted him the Most Outstanding Player award from head coach Billy Kennedy.
“It parallels to when Alex was in high school,” Mike Caruso said. “As a freshman, Alex was moved up to varsity and played with the big boys. He was small, but he grew and learned. As a freshman in college, he was thrown into the wolves and he is where he is now.”
Mike Caruso had a chance to see almost all of his son’s basketball games during the 2013-14 season.
“For almost forever we’ve been a sports coordinating family,” he said. “It’s very unusual, because in high school I was able to attend most of his games, and the same is for college as well. I broadcast the away games with Dave South, so not only am I at all of the home games, but the away ones too.”
In his two years, A&M has tallied 18-15 and 18-16 records, respectively, and has failed to reach the NCAA tournament.
“Obviously making the NCAA tournament is a big goal of ours,” Alex said. “We also want to finish in the top four of the SEC. I need to shoot at a higher field goal percentage, and become more aggressive. Something else I need to focus on is defense for sure.”
A strong March to finish last season brings hope for Alex. He averaged almost 12 points and seven assists per game during that span. By the end of his sophomore season, Alex became a member of the 250-assist and the 100-steal club for his career. In one of the final games in the SEC tournament, Alex recorded 28 points against Missouri.
“AC has really emphasized giving up your desires for the team’s desires,” Green said. “He did a great job last year when sometimes he would sacrifice points for us, and this year he’s going to look to be a lot more aggressive. I’m excited to see what that will look like, especially with how he ended the season last year with the Missouri game.”
Alex’s numbers and talent has garnered him recognition from NBA scouts.
“He really has a unique intellect for the game of basketball,” Mike Caruso said. “A few people in the NBA have talked to him. If he still has the determination, he could play somewhere. The thing that impresses me is his anticipation of the game that’s unlike your average player.”
The main goal for the sports management major is to play in the pros, and Alex believes he has what it takes.
“I think it’s really everyone’s plan to play in NBA, or at least somewhere,” Alex said. “I’m not sure what I would do if I didn’t make it, that’s really all I want to do. Playing in the pros is a dream of mine, and I wouldn’t mind playing overseas.”
Alex’s passion for A&M extends beyond Reed Arena.
“He loves everything about A&M,” Green said. “He loves all sports, and we kind of get on to him because he’s so passionate about football. You know, what about the basketball team? He loves being here.”
As two of the Aggies most experienced players, Jordan and Alex have become best friends. They’ve also become the team’s leaders.
“As leaders, Alex and I talk a lot,” Green said. “We set up meetings, we have class together and eat lunch together. His goals are team goals first. He’s a team guy. Alex wants to have a long run in the NCAA tournament and finishing top four in the SEC if not winning it. We talk about the next level all the time and me and him watch a lot of NBA basketball together. We see guys that he played against last year in the NBA who’ve been playing well as rookies. He’s very inspired and he’s looking forward to having a great year and moving on to the future.”
Last season, leading scorer Jamal Jones left the team, as did coaches Glynn Cyprien and John Reese. On top of that, there are a lot of new faces in the program, including four-star recruit Alex Robinson, SMU transfer Jalen Jones and freshman Avery Johnson Jr.
“I was extremely encouraged from the practices I attended,” Mike Caruso said. “There was a great vibe going around. The attitude from the new players and coaches were just what everyone needed. I think this year we have a great combination of players and a lot more options.”
A&M has a challenging non-conference slate that includes Mercer, Kansas State, Arizona State and Baylor. The Aggies face Dayton on Nov. 20 in the first round of the Puerto Rico Tournament.
“We want to go undefeated at home in non conference play,” Green said. “Our next goal is to come out to Puerto Rico, and we are not just going to play, we are going to win. We want to win the championship there. One of the games that we’ve starred is the away game at Baylor. With Alex being such a big A&M fan his whole life, he hates Baylor. He expresses his hate for them all the time and we’re all looking forward to that game.”
The first challenge for Caruso will come against Northwestern State, the Aggies season opener 7 p.m. Friday.
The junior grew up staring at his reflection as he wiped the Reed Arena floors squeaky clean, the same floors his shoes will scuff once more as he looks to lead A&M to its first NCAA berth since 2011.
“I want to be thought of several years from now as the guy who played hard,” Caruso said. “The younger guys are a big part in it, and I hope to be a stepping stone for them to build off of.”

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