Van Exel didn't apply himself in high school, didn't have the 2.0 grade point average necessary to play basketball as a freshman in Division I, neglected to take the college entrance exam and ended up at TVCC. That's where he earned the reputation for being, as Osborne put it, "a gangsta hooper." Van Exel describes his two years at TVCC as "the worst experience of my life," and it was no picnic for those around him. "Sometimes he was happy-go-lucky, other times he was a raving lunatic," says ex-teammate Hooks. "You didn't really want to hang around him because you didn't know which he'd be."
A lot of NBA folks are still not sure what they should expect from Van Exel, or when. "A lot of people might go on first impressions," Van Exel said last week. "I go on sixth and seventh impressions." That's about where many people in the league are with Van Exel, and so far, what they see is not so appealing.