The opportunity to become a Cowboy, with the blessing of coach Travis Ford, cinched it.
“I contacted Coach Ford and had a meeting with him. And he was on board with it,” Alex said. “I knew I wanted to play basketball. And honestly, if I didn't have the opportunity to walk on to this team, I don't know if I'd have come back. But Coach Ford, I can't give him enough credit for allowing me to be on the team.”
Said Ford: “I told him we'd love to have him. He has been absolutely wonderful. He's really helped us in practice. And we've needed him a lot, because of the injuries.
“Wow, is he a hard worker. And hard-nosed, too. He has a good understanding of the game. He's picked things up very quickly. And he can play. So it's been fun to have him around, definitely.”
Approaching the one-year anniversary of the crash that killed his father, assistant coach Miranda Serna and OSU donors Olin and Paula Branstetter, Alex will have to manage the expected flood of emotions from afar. He'll be with the Cowboys at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, a three-game tournament scheduled to start Thursday.
“We'll see what comes,” he said. “I'm not really sure what to expect.”
Overall, Alex said, he and his family keep pressing forward, living the words of Kurt.
“Everybody's doing great,” Alex said. “It's definitely been one of the more challenging years for our family. One thing my dad believed in was being strong. We've tried to keep being strong throughout this whole experience.
“Getting better every day.”
MORE FROM NEWSOK
One year later
As the one-year anniversary of the plane crash killed Oklahoma State women's basketball coach Kurt Budke, assistant Miranda Serna and program supporters Olin and Paula Branstetter approaches, The Oklahoman looks at the lives of those affected by the crash.
Wednesday: Nettie Herrera still mourns her daughter, Miranda Serna.
Thursday: Kurt Budke's son Alex is playing in front of ‘family' at OSU.
Friday: Catching up with Roshunda Johnson, one of the players Budke and Serna were on the way to see when the plane crashed.
Saturday: The five words Shelley Budke has been living by since the crash.