Throughout the summer, we’re going to introduce you to UK’s top targets in the 2014 class. Last week, Ally profiled Emmanuel Mudiay for you, and this week, it’s time to get to know Cliff Alexander, the best power forward in the 2014 class.
6’8″, 240 lbs.
Chart via 247
“THE LIST”: Kentucky, Michigan State, DePaul, Florida State, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisville, Memphis, Michigan, Ohio State, Purdue, Tennessee, Wisconsin
Frontrunners: Kentucky, Michigan State, Kansas, Illinois
Buzz: Visited Kansas yesterday
Visited UK: 10/13/2012 for Big Blue Madness
Visit from Cal: 11/30/2012, 12/16/2012 (Antigua), 4/22/2013
— Large frame, with potential to add more bulk
— 7’2″ wingspan
— Very athletic for his size
— Great hands and timing on the glass for rebounds and blocks
— Toughness: aggressive, attacks the basket, finishes well and not afraid to get rough down low
— Excels in pick-and-roll situations
— Must stay on top of conditioning
— Lacks a “go-to move” offensively (although he is developing a nice left hook)
— No midrange game
What They’re Saying about Cliff:
Joe Henricksen: “I used to kind of scoff at the idea of Amar’e Stoudemire comparisons with Cliff. But now that you see him actually knocking down face-up jumpers and project what that could be like three or four years from now, you can see it.”
ESPN’s Reggie Rankin: “When the final ESPN 60 rankings came out, Alexander had top-10 status, coming in at No. 8 overall. He’s gone on to play great this spring with countless dominant performances to rise to No. 2 overall. With his ability to rebound at rim level, finish with power and a rapidly improving face-up game, Alexander has all the tools to be a game-changer in college.”
Scout.com: “Alexander is one of the more physical post prospects around. The 6-foot-9 big man has a strong frame that he isn’t afraid to toss around in the paint. He’s tough, active and a very good athlete that looks to grab every rebound he can get his hands on. Defensively he’s also effective contesting shots and defending the post. Offensively he’s getting better, but he still needs to develop a go-to scoring move. Right now his value is his motor inside.”
ESPN: “This big fella is in the argument for best player/prospect in the country. Big, strong and athletic, Alexander is productive every time he steps on the court. Some of the athletic plays he makes dunking the ball and blocking shots are not seen from any other player in high school currently.”
What He’s Saying about Kentucky:
When asked what his dream school was a year ago, Alexander said: “Kentucky.”
“They want to develop me, get me like a Terrence Jones and I’m looking forward to that,” Alexander told ZagsBlog.com back in April. “[Karl Towns] and I can play together–he’s a five and I’m a four. We’ll work from there.”
On UK recruiting him: “They’re coming pretty hard. I had a home visit with them a couple of days ago. It went well. My parents love Coach Cal.” (April 2013)
On attending Big Blue Madness in 2012: “It was crazy. The fan base was crazy. The kids loved me. Everybody loved me. They chanted my name. It was love.” (April 2013)
On Cal: “He keeps telling me to go hard, and he wants me and wants to coach me one day,” he said. “I like them. I think Coach Cal gets the job done.” (April 2013)
On Kentucky: “When I was coming out of eighth grade and I first started playing basketball, I wanted to go to Kentucky because I saw John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and DeAndre Liggins out of there and I wanted to get in their predicament.” (April 2013)
Alexander has said that the staff is trying to mold him into a Terrence Jones-style player to play alongside Karl Towns, who will take the 5 spot. Alexander says he would prefer that, since he would rather play power forward in college than center. Some traits that Terrence and Cliff share:
— Attack the basket aggressively
— Great rebounding skills
— Can run the floor
Reasons to Think Kentucky has a good chance:
He has discussed playing with Jahlil Okafor (his AAU teammate) and Tyus Jones at the next level, but recently shot down rumors that he’s part of their package deal. Why is that good news for Kentucky? Jones recently said that he also wants to play college ball with Justise Winslow, who has not received any interest from UK so far, so the odds that they come to Kentucky don’t look great.
However, Alexander has spoken glowingly of Kentucky and Cal, and would prefer to play the power forward position in college, something which the staff has proposed with Karl Towns as the center. Plus, there’s no better coach than Cal at getting players in the pros. Tom Izzo’s great, but he doesn’t have nearly as good a record at turning five-stars into lottery picks.
Reasons to worry if you’re a Kentucky fan:
Alexander loves Tom Izzo and Michigan State, going as far to say he can picture himself playing there. He is tight with the staff and players, including Gary Harris, whom he calls a close friend. He also like his home state school of Illinois, which was the first to give him an offer.
Reading the Tweet Leaves/Tweet Beat Potential
— Alexander accidentally set off a mini-riot after Andrew Wiggins chose Kansas when he said “Andrew gone take down the twins.” Kentucky fans being Kentucky fans, thought he meant the Harrison Twins, when in fact, he meant the Gonzalez Twins, who will play for Kansas’ women’s team this fall.
Kentucky fans just came at my head lol I didn't mean no harm
— Cliff Alexander (@humblekid11) May 14, 2013
Sorry for the misunderstanding, Cliff. The men of the BBN thank you for the introduction.
— After a Duke fan tweeted him to say that he needed to come to Duke, Alexander set him straight:
@humblekid11 yeah I know. We need to knock sense into Coack K
— Duke obsessionâ„¢ (@DSportscen) June 14, 2013
— In fact, he shoots down all sorts of rumors with ease:
ONCE AGAIN I DO NOT HAVE A TOP 3
— Cliff Alexander (@humblekid11) May 26, 2013
— Uses “Unfollowers.me,” which shows you how many people have followed/unfollowed you that day:
Today stats: 74 new followers, 7 new unfollowers and followed One person via http://t.co/Bm7mCMiZp9
— Cliff Alexander (@humblekid11) June 18, 2013
We know you’re popular, Cliff. No need to rub it in.
— Seems to retweet Michigan State and Illinois fans more often than UK fans. (But, it’s best to not get lost in this analysis)
— May not know when the NBA Draft is:
When is the draft?
— Cliff Alexander (@humblekid11) June 19, 2013
(On the good side, at least he feels comfortable enough to ask his twitter followers for help.)
Oh yeah, he also broke a backboard:
Final Judgement/How bad do we want him?:
We want him pretty badly. Alexander’s stock has been rising due to some seriously impressive performances this summer, and with Julius Randle (and potentially Alex Poythress) gone to the NBA after next season, Kentucky will need to fill the 4 spot. With Okafor/Jones/Winslow going elsewhere, Kentucky’s 2014 class could shape up to be Towns, Mudiay, Vaughn, and Alexander, which is pretty freaking good. It will be interesting to see what impact Dakari Johnson’s decision will have on Alexander, but so far, Kentucky seems to be in a very good spot with Alexander, who will narrow his list to ten schools later this month.