Brianne Alexander remembers the day she and her mom pulled up to pick up her sister from elementary school and they both fell silent. Little Brinae strode out the front door wearing a pink and white striped tennis dress, without any sleeves, capri pants underneath, paired with pink snow boots with fur that came up to her knees. This was in Murfreesboro, Tenn., where there was certainly no need for snow boots. To this day, Brianne has no idea where the boots came from or how her sister got out of the house with the garish outfit in the first place.
After 4 years at Vanderbilt, Brinae Alexander is winning at Maryland
“She thought she was doing the thing,” Brianne said through a laugh. “It just rings true to like, if Brinae likes it, she’s going to stand in that authenticity. … Literally, thought she was just the most fire thing ever known to man, and she looked crazy.”
Stephanie Davis, their mom, added, “I have no idea what happened.”
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But that’s the thing about Alexander, the Maryland forward who was named captain just months after she transferred in from Vanderbilt — when she makes a decision, there’s no second-guessing. That’s how she wound up in College Park, playing for the No. 8 team in the nation. Through coaching changes, a canceled covid season and injuries, Alexander put in four years at Vanderbilt, growing from being named to the SEC all-freshman team to leading the team in points as a senior. But the Commodores never had a winning season during that span, and she knew she wanted more.
So Alexander made up her mind to get her degree and enter the transfer portal. From the beginning, she had her eyes on Maryland even though she never lived outside of Tennessee.
“If Brinae says she’s going to do something, you best believe that’s what’s going to be done,” Davis said. “She is the friend you want on your team when it’s time to go because she’s going to be all in.”
An assistant coach at Vanderbilt knew Maryland assistant Kaitlynn Fratz, and the process began. Coach Brenda Frese did her own scouting and quickly made the offer because she was rebuilding a team that had lost four starters and a top reserve. Alexander had watched the Terps play, knew several players on the team and, quite frankly, was tired of losing.
“You want kids that want to be here and that want to be a part of this program,” Frese said. “And obviously from Brinae’s end, she had watched us. She knew she wanted to win and to be on a national scale.”
Doing so, however, meant giving up some individual glory. Points were going to drop. Minutes were going to drop. Alexander is the top reserve coming off the bench like a Swiss Army knife — ready and willing to do whatever. Her 8.5 points per game rank fourth on the team, and she’s shooting 45.7 percent from behind the arc. That attitude and personality instantly endeared her to her new teammates.
Faith Masonius remembers Alexander coming into summer pickup games confident and comfortable in her own skin — willing to challenge teammates by holding them accountable or giving some much-needed support. Alexander acknowledges that she butted heads with Vanderbilt Coach Shea Ralph when she was brought in before the 2021-22 season but credits Ralph for pushing her into becoming a better leader.
“She’s the realest person that I know,” said Vanderbilt guard Jordyn Cambridge, who has been best friends with Alexander since fourth grade. “She’s super outgoing. She’s super blunt. When the new staff came, the form of leadership that they were looking for looked a little bit different than what Brinae was used to.”
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Now Alexander has found a new home. She’s getting more of the full college experience without the pandemic. There’s team success instead of just individual accolades, and this will be the first time she has played in the NCAA tournament. And it all started with the decision to step out of her comfort zone, leave lifelong friends and family behind and take on a different role.
“Sometimes it’s like pinch-me moments because even like every Monday, ready for the polls to come out at 1 p.m. just to see,” Alexander said. “This was not a thing when I went to Vanderbilt. That’s just the reality of it. Top 25, I probably barely paid attention to when I was going to Vanderbilt. It’s like: ‘Wow, I’m really on the No. 8 team in the nation. It feels so great.’
“I also love how I have that different perspective from some of my teammates. They don’t know any different. . . . They’ve been a part of this winning culture. I’m like, ‘You don’t know how rough it really can be.’ And I just love that for them, though. Love that for you because you’re living your best life and you are living the dream.”