When handing out the kudos to those responsible for influencing power forward Cliff Alexander’s decision to come to Kansas, head coach Bill Self, a terrific closer, will be at the top of most lists.
KU’s tradition, the Allen Fieldhouse atmosphere, and the fact that Alexander’s girlfriend, Caelynn Manning-Allen, plays basketball for the KU women’s team, also will get many mentions.
But don’t forget a hidden hero in this big recruiting score.
Jerrance Howard, hired to join Kurtis Townsend and Norm Roberts as full-time assistants on Self’s staff after Joe Dooley left to take the head-coaching job at Florida Gulf Coast, can’t be overlooked in the role he played in landing the backboard-shattering power player.
As is the case with so many strong recruiters, Howard has a knack for making someone he met 20 minutes ago feels as if they have been friends since grade school.
Howard played for Self at Illinois, worked for former Self assistant Billy Gillispie at Texas A&M and Kentucky and then was hired by Bruce Weber at Illinois.
Illinois, which finished second to KU for Alexander, has had an on-again, off-again, relationship with Chicago recruits. Weber struggled recruiting top talent from Chicago and Howard’s hometown of Peoria until bringing Howard on board in 2008. After Weber, now Kansas State's coach, was canned by Illinois, Howard spent last season working on Larry Brown’s SMU staff.
Alexander counts as Howard’s first big Chicago score for Kansas, first of many.