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Originally published November 15, 2013 at 03:17p.m., updated November 16, 2013 at 12:15a.m.

No. 4 recruit Cliff Alexander picks Kansas basketball

Chicago power forward compared by some to Thomas Robinson

Kansas recruit Cliff Alexander watches from behind the bench during Late Night in the Phog, Friday, Oct. 4, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas recruit Cliff Alexander watches from behind the bench during Late Night in the Phog, Friday, Oct. 4, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Kansas recruit Cliff Alexander, second from right, hangs out with members of the Kansas men's team Sunday afternoon at the Kansas women's season opening basketball game against Oral Roberts. Alexander's girlfriend plays for the women's team.

Chicago Curie High School basketball power forward Cliff Alexander says he has been under a lot of self-imposed pressure of late, trying to choose between Kansas University, Illinois, DePaul and Memphis.

“I’d been confused for the last week. One minute I want to go here. One minute I want to go there,” Alexander, the country’s No. 4-rated player in the recruiting Class of 2014, said Friday after announcing for KU in a controversial commitment ceremony that included hats as props, televised on ESPNU.

“We finally came to the conclusion last night I want to go to Kansas,” the 6-foot-8, 240-pound Alexander added, referring to family members and coaches.

Alexander, who averaged 21.3 points and 13.0 boards his junior season, acted undecided right up until the second he told classmates in a packed Curie High auditorium he was headed to KU.

Seated at a table with hats of his four finalists in front of him, he first grabbed a University of Illinois cap.

He then dropped the Illini hat back on the table and placed a KU cap upon his head, signifying the Jayhawks as his college choice. The hat flap caused an immediate uproar on Twitter — Illini fans expressing their displeasure at Alexander for faking them out.

“It was something my teammates thought I should do, so I did it,” Alexander said of the hat switcheroo.

He said the deciding factor in choosing KU over runner-up choice Illinois was KU coach Bill Self’s “developing his players, getting his players to the league.”

The league, of course, is the NBA, where Alexander wants to play in 2015-16.

“One and done then come back and get my degree,” Alexander said of his future plans.

Curiously, he did not sign a letter of intent Friday. The early, weeklong signing period runs through Wednesday.

“I talked to my parents and coaches. They said it was best if I do not sign today. I’d like to see how I feel to be verbally committed and not sign yet,” Alexander said. “I wanted to get a chance to get a feel of the commitment.”

Pressed about the matter by a horde of media members, Alexander said, “probably January, I’m not sure when,” when asked when he’d sign.

Asked if that means he still could attend Illinois, he smiled and said, “No, Kansas. Really, I’m set. I want to go to Kansas.”

KU coach Self cannot comment about Alexander’s commitment until KU receives the letter of intent via email or fax.

Alexander, who turns 18 today, said his KU commitment is “a great (birthday) present, a great present.

“Coach Self is a great guy. I thought Bill Self could develop me and get me where I want to be. We have that type (of) relationship,” Alexander noted.

“I want to get where I want to be (NBA) fast. I didn’t want to have time to waste. He has a lot of titles under his belt, a lot of pros. It’s why I wanted to go to the University of Kansas.”

Also ... “I decided I didn’t want to stay home. I just wanted to get away. I’ve been living here 17 years. I wanted to experience something new.”

Alexander, whose girlfriend attends Kansas, acknowledged that he likely would not have chosen KU had Chicago Whitney Young High big man Jahlil Okafor chosen KU on Friday.

Okafor and Minnesota point guard Tyus Jones selected Duke over runner-up KU on the same signing show on ESPNU.

“I’d probably have gone to Illinois,” Alexander said, adding that he has nothing against Okafor and in fact likes him a lot.

“He’s like another brother to me. We have a great relationship,” Alexander said.

Alexander said he actually would like to be reunited with another buddy in Lawrence. JaQuan Lyle, who decommitted from Louisville, is considering UConn, Memphis, Louisville and others.

“He’s gonna be a Jayhawk,” Alexander said, with a smile, of the player who has yet to be recruited by KU.

KU has signed Kelly Oubre, 6-7 shooting guard, from Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nevada. Alexander’s commitment fills KU’s current allotment of two available scholarships — those of senior Tarik Black and certain one-and-done Andrew Wiggins. KU could also lose Wayne Selden, Joel Embiid and/or Perry Ellis to the NBA, and there’s always the possibility of transfers.

For now, “I’m very relieved,” Alexander said. “This can stop the phone calls. I can concentrate on school and basketball now. When I get to (KU), I’ll play my role and get where I want to be, win a national championship.”

Howard key recruiter: Alexander said KU assistant Jerrance Howard, a former Illinois player, did a great job recruiting him.

“He played a big role ever since he stepped foot on campus at Kansas. We’ve been talking. We built a great relationship. He was one of the guys to offer me when he was at Illinois (as assistant),” Alexander said.

More on Okafor, Jones: Duke landed the country’s No. 1- and 5-rated players, according to Rivals.com, in Okafor and Jones.

They were true to their word of being a package deal.

“We just wanted the best opportunity to win,” Okafor said.

ESPN.com says Okafor and Jones are “the most notable package deal in college basketball since Greg Oden and Mike Conley committed to Ohio State in the 2006 class, but it’s unprecedented in that they never have played together on either the high school or AAU level. Instead, their joint playing experiences have come primarily with USA Basketball, beginning in October 2010 and continuing with subsequent selections in each of the next two summers to national teams that won gold medals while traveling to Mexico and Lithuania.”

More signings: SMU coach Larry Brown landed No. 2-ranked Emmanuel Mudiay, 6-5 point guard from Prime Prep Academy in Dallas. ... No. 3 Stanley Johnson, 6-6 small forward from Mater Dei in Santa Ana, Calif., chose Arizona.

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Cliff Alexander "hat trick" favors Kansas

Chicago basketball star Cliff Alexander picks Kansas over Illinois.

Comments

Joseph Bullock 5 months ago

PS: Get over the hat trick thing. tNo, he should not have done it, but the young man knows he made a mistake by doing that, so let it go. Besides, as many times as that has happened to us, it's better Illinois, than us. LOL

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Joseph Bullock 5 months ago

Give me Turner, any day! He is the best defensive big man in High School Basketball. maybe the best over all defender, period. it simply gives us more depth! Also, Lyle will be a Jayhawk!!! Doesn't anyone remember his post, with Alexander, and something Jayhawk (I can't remember exactly what is was, right now)? And we could use a combo guard, who can defend a big guard, or a point guard, and he is 6'5" tall. He is also rated #22, Nationally, now. I had heard he was #39, about a month ago. maybe he has moved up in the rankings, or maybe it was two different ranking services. Either way, I'll take him!

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Evan Bilyeu 5 months, 1 week ago

What is your guys opinion of Jaquan Lyle? I want him but I really would rather have Rashad Vaghn or Justise WInslow. I think we should start recruiting him after they decide.

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Ryan Sullivan 5 months, 1 week ago

He signed his LOI at 8am this morning...so suck it.

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Grouch Lives 5 months, 1 week ago

I'm a bit concerned about two things: Dad's body language during visits and at the announcement, and the fact that Alexander's not willing to sign the letter of intent. I don't like to see negative posts about our kids, current or future, but we do have experience with overbearing and interruptive parents. I have exposure to these types of parents having coached AAU teams and now with a stepchild playing. Cliff will make a great addition to our team and school and will benefit by playing for Self. I sincerely hope Cliff is a Jayhawk and he holds to his commitment, but I'm waiting for the ink to dry.

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Ed Connealy 5 months, 1 week ago

Cliff couldn't come off as a bigger jerk. Self will have his hands full w/ this one, assuming he even comes to KU.

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Roy Scherff 5 months, 1 week ago

This guy will never play here. He's still committed to Illinois.

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Asad Zoberi 5 months, 1 week ago

I am delighted on this signing but I wish he had not done the hat ceremony, and in particular, how he did it. It would have been great if he would have done a simple ceremony like Selden, Embiid etc had done without making this hoopla on ESPNU.

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Joseph Bullock 5 months, 1 week ago

OK, TRUBLUE here. For any of you that don't think there is any truth to JaQuan Lyle attending K.U., you better think again. Does anyone remember when he de-committed from Louisville, that he posted a picture of himself and Alexander, with a K.U. Logo (or something of the sort)! Now read this partial article, from a while back: Just based on a couple of sentences from Lyle, it would appear that the Jayhawks are the front-runners for the pair, according to ESPN.

"It would probably be Kansas," Lyle said. "I like them a lot, and me and [assistant] coach [Jerrance] Howard had a relationship at Illinois and also when he was at SMU." Ain't nothin changed! Lyle will be a Jayhawk. And if I'm not mistaken, he is a big point guard, who can also play the 1 & 2, at both ends of the floor. That would be a great compliment to Tharp & Mason. Rock Chalk!

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Bruce Beckum 5 months, 1 week ago

Who's the guy next to Alexander and what's up with him?

Anyway, Great job HCBS and welcome to KU Mr. Alexander.

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Ryan Houston 5 months, 1 week ago

If both Emiid and Ellis stay, the lineup will look like this

Tharpe/Mason/Frankamp

White/Frankamp

Oubre/Greene

Ellis/Alexander/Traylor/Mickleson/Lucas

Emiid/Alexander/Lucas/Traylor

I feel bad for those guys who won’t see much playing time, because they all deserve some minutes. Though it does make it so we have the best product as possible on the court.

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Alex Wishart 5 months, 1 week ago

One thing that I haven't really seen mentioned yet is that our team looked AWESOME going small. How great was it to see Mason at the point with Tharp at the SG? This is something that will help us come March. In the Bill Self era we have been bounced out of the tournament by mid majors that are typically playing small ball out of need. We took the small ball challenge from Coach K (the system he ran for the Olympic squad) and beat him at his own game. This might be the biggest development coming out of the Dook game.

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Chris Shaw 5 months, 1 week ago

Now let's get Myles Turner in for a visit and get this class done in the Spring.

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Chris Shaw 5 months, 1 week ago

He wanted to stay in the Midwest and Kentucky already got their Big Men in Trey Lyles and Karl Towns, which are both 6'10 kids and ranked #8 and #11 respectively in the class. Duke just got their Big Man in Okafor.

With all that said, Kansas is "BigManU" so that doesn't leave many options for National TV exposure every freaking week.

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Bryce Landon 5 months, 1 week ago

I'm glad to get him, but consider who else was recruiting him - Illinois, Memphis and (wait for it...) DePaul. Not exactly the big names. Where were Kentucky and Duke in the recruiting process for this guy? Did they even go after him?

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Chris Shaw 5 months, 1 week ago

I don't know like the hat ceremony, but the U of I perspective is absolutely hilarious. This is funny stuff right here.

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Benz Junque 5 months, 1 week ago

Rumor out of Illinois area is that Cliff Alexander is stating that PG JaQuan Lyle will be joining him at Kansas. Just rumors from pi$$ed off Illini fans at this point but they have long been rumored to want to go to school together.

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Ben Schwartz 5 months, 1 week ago

To be honest, I wasn't initially sold on this guy. I had read a comment that painted him negatively (that may or may not be true), but after spending some time watching highlights and interviews/comments by him I am definitely more convinced.

He dunks every chance he gets, and he loves doing it. He feeds off of the energy and gets juiced even when a small gym of high school peers is cheering. Imagine the level he will be on when he brings down the house in the Phog.

When he turns on his motor, you can tell he has authority in the post. In a game I watched where he matched up against Jahlil, Cliff would just patiently back him down and score pretty easily. I think he could easily play in the same rotation as Perry (if he is here next year).

The media is comparing him to T-Rob, but he really seems more like the up-side of Darnell Jackson. He is a thick, 5 years-younger-than-he-looks, Chicago kid in the vein of Sherron. He fits our system well and I can't wait for him to meet Hudy and the conditioning regiment.

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Michael Lickteig 5 months, 1 week ago

Cliff Alexander is a wonderful pickup for Kansas, and I'm overjoyed that the Hawks didn't get shut out today. Next year's team will be outstanding with Alexander, Oubre and Mickelson added to the squad.

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Jonathan Andrews 5 months, 1 week ago

Way to go, Self! Welcome, Cliff, you're going to be an AMAZING addition to our program.

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Tony Bandle 5 months, 1 week ago

I told you all earlier this week, that photo of him with the current players watching his girlfriend play ball at Allen had him already looking like a teammate.

I am sure Jahlil's head said Kansas but his heart said stick with his pal, keep his promise and go to Duke.

I think that this is only the beginning of the recruiting gold rush we will see from Coach Howard over the next several seasons, before he gets his own position.

Mr. Turner...come on down!!!!!

0

Daniel Kennamore 5 months, 1 week ago

Welcome to the Jayhawk family young man.

Rock Chalk!

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Michael Pannacciulli 5 months, 1 week ago

Love love love love this news! Alexander is a beast. He will rip it up. Well done. Welcome to KU young man.

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Jack Wilson 5 months, 1 week ago

He is comparable to a developed TRob, I would hope. Not the freshman version.

If Okafer and Jones had to go as a pair, this is perfect.

  1. Tharpe/Mason

  2. Greene/White

  3. Oubre/White

  4. Ellis/Traylor

4a. Alexander/Traylor

Ladies and gentlemen, your 8 man 2014-15 rotation.

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Waylon Cook 5 months, 1 week ago

Welcome Cliff! I bet Illini fans are really throwing darts at Self tonight!:)

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Josh Helmer 5 months, 1 week ago

On a side note, the Bill Self Chicago pipeline rolls on. Cliff had my heart dropping when he initially reached for the Illinois hat.

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Craig Kristi Alexander 5 months, 1 week ago

I like the sound of Alexander for the jam!!

Welcome to Kansas!

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Josh Helmer 5 months, 1 week ago

His tape does draw comparisons to TRob. Great news to welcome Cliff. Tyus Jones would have been nice, but KU should be fine w/ Mason going forward.

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Cameron Cederlind 5 months, 1 week ago

We won a hat ceremony. The end of the world is coming. WELCOME TO KANSAS CLIFF

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