The uncovered court in Castlegate Park that professional basketball player Alex Caruso played on starting in elementary school now bears his name.
The effort to honor Caruso, who recently won an NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers, started after Caruso told host of TexAgs radio Gabe Bock in a 2019 interview that he played on the Castlegate court growing up. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the push to name the court, but on Thursday the College Station City Council members voted 5-1-1 to name the space “Alex Caruso Court.”
Caruso thanked Bock for his work on the initiative in a Friday afternoon Tweet.
“From fourth grade till I left for college I would shoot till dark, sneak into pickup games, and many times be the only person there just dreaming like kids do. ... [It’s] a special place for me,” he said.
Colin Killian, College Station public communications manager, made the case for naming the court Thursday night, telling council members that Caruso is the first homegrown athlete from the city to earn a professional championship.
Before his time in the NBA, Caruso had an outstanding athletic career at A&M Consolidated High School, leading the Tigers to a school-record number of wins, according to the resolution that passed. He went on to play for A&M, leading the Aggies to a school-record 28 victories as a senior.
“If Alex’s story were a movie script, Hollywood would reject it as too unrealistic,” Killian said. “But every bit of it is true.”
Killian added that naming the court after Caruso could be a catalyst for Alex’s future involvement in the community.
Bock and John Thornton, former A&M basketball player, coach and administrator, said they can help raise funds for improvements to the court including a sign with the new name, a pavilion and repainting.
Councilman John Crompton abstained from discussion and voting. Councilwoman Elizabeth Cunha voted against the motion, saying she believes naming like this should be a posthumous honor. Even so, she praised Caruso, who went to school with her children.
“I am grateful for Alex,” she said. “I think he’s a wonderful display of excellence and taking the gifts that God gave him and working his tail off to maximize the good that can come from that. … I’m grateful for Alex and the inspiration that he’s provided to the kids.”
Caruso’s journey is inspirational, Mayor Karl Mooney said as he supported the resolution, noting that it could encourage young people who see the court to excel in their respective fields.
“For [kids] to be able to affiliate the name with a place where they are, where he had been, is something that makes them aspire, not necessarily to be a basketball player, but to be something bigger and better than they maybe ever thought they could be,” he said. “That’s the message that we’re sending here. Can you make it? Can you be a world champion? You know what? If you live in College Station, you can.”