Kansas Lands Alexander, Misses On Jones & OkaforPosted by Taylor Erickson on November 15th, 2013
It’s official. Cliff Alexander, a 6’9″ power forward from Curie (Chicago) High School, is headed to Kansas next season.
In a ceremony at his high school on Friday afternoon, Alexander announced his commitment to Bill Self and the Jayhawks for the 2014-15 season, joining fellow top prospect and Kansas commit Kelly Oubre, a 6’7″ swingman from Sugar Land, Texas, via Findlay Prep in Las Vegas. Alexander is a physical athlete that plays above the rim and will be expected to make an instant impact in Lawrence next season. The Chicago big man was believed to be solid on Kansas just a few short weeks ago, but gained momentum to Illinois as of late when many believe Kansas backed off on Alexander in an attempt to focus their efforts on Jahlil Okafor, Rivals’ number one ranked recruit in this year’s class. It was believed that Alexander’s long-standing relationship with former Illini assistant and current Kansas assistant coach Jerrance Howard, coupled with the fact that his girlfriend plays basketball for the Jayhawks, would be enough to lure the talented big man to Kansas. If current Kansas center Joel Embiid bolts for the NBA after this season, as many anticipate, Alexander will easily help fill the void and solidify the Kansas frontcourt along side sophomores Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor next year. Landing Alexander continues Self’s recent success on the recruiting trail after hauling in the second ranked class in 2013 with Andrew Wiggins, Wayne Selden and Embiid, among others. The combination of Alexander and Oubre, along with the Jayhawks’ returning talent next season should have Bill Self’s squad poised once again as a legitimate title contender in March 2015.
The blockbuster package duo of top prospects Tyus Jones (Rivals #1 Guard) and Jahlil Okafor (Rivals #1 Center) announced earlier this week that they would unveil their college choices Friday afternoon, joining Alexander (Rivals #2 Forward) and wing Stanley Johnson (Rivals #3 Forward) in setting up what was billed as perhaps one of the biggest days in recruiting in quite some time. The Jones/Okafor pair had been rumored to have narrowed their list down to Kansas and Duke heading into their announcement, although many suggested the two had long been a Duke lean and held true to that belief on Friday by announcing they will both be headed to Durham. The inside-out combination of Jones and Okafor instantly elevates the Blue Devils’ next recruiting class to the top of the 2014 class rankings.
Kansas will now have the luxury of focusing its attention on remaining top-10 big man Myles Turner, a 6’11″ center, who will announce his college decision in the spring signing period, although it’s a bit unclear as to how Turner and Alexander would fit together in Lawrence if current Jayhawks Ellis or Embiid return next season. In addition, there has been a bit of buzz around JaQuan Lyle, a 6’4″ guard out of Huntington Prep (the same school as Andrew Wiggins), joining Alexander in forming their own package deal next season. After missing out on Jones, some expect Kansas could look to Lyle as a replacement if current shooting guard Wayne Selden opts for the NBA draft next June.
While most Jayhawk fans wanted the Jones/Okafor duo in Kansas uniforms next season, the commitment from Alexander should provide plenty of excitement in Lawrence. If his many YouTube highlights are any indication, there will be no shortage of dunks in Allen Fieldhouse next year.