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Friday, June 26, 2015

Keegan

Column: Cliff Alexander learns a difficult lesson

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander works between Washburn players Alex North (22) and Kevin House during the second half on Monday, Nov. 3, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander works between Washburn players Alex North (22) and Kevin House during the second half on Monday, Nov. 3, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Thomas Robinson is coming off career-high averages in points (5.7) and rebounds (5.6). He has been with five NBA teams since being selected with the fifth overall pick in the 2012 draft. Not the sort of production anticipated for such a high pick.

Call him a journeyman or reach a more harsh conclusion and label him a bust, but don’t call him anything but brilliant in the judgment he used in making the most important financial decision he’ll ever make.

Should I stay or should I go? That question faces college basketball players blessed with NBA potential. Robinson answered that question three times: No, no, yes. He got it right all three times.

Thanks to that, Robinson has made $10,579,440 in NBA paychecks.

If he had bolted after his freshman season, when he averaged 2.5 points and 2.7 rebounds, he might have been able to earn a job in the Developmental League, but would have faded into oblivion, never earning an NBA paycheck.

Had Robinson gone after his sophomore season, he might have been selected in the second round of the NBA draft, released and signed by a D-League team. His hopes of ever making millions would have been only slightly better than the average habitual lottery-ticket purchaser.

Instead, Robinson put his team on his broad shoulders and carried it to the NCAA title game in his junior season. A winner like that gets the benefit of the doubt on draft day and sets himself up for life.

Cliff Alexander’s statistics as a freshman were similar to Robinson’s as a sophomore. Those who know Alexander best strongly believe that even if his mother had not prematurely tried to cash in on her son’s earning potential, thereby damaging his chances at becoming a millionaire, he would have declared himself eligible for the draft, even though he said otherwise. It takes serious maturity to listen to people speaking the truth than the legion of leaches spewing superlatives. Alexander didn’t have it. Most teenagers don’t.

Robinson’s draft position guaranteed his contract. Second-round draft choices get no such assurances.

Free agents have even less leverage, as the undrafted Alexander will soon discover

If the NCAA had the guts and wisdom to fight back against the NBA’s one-and-done rule by allowing players such as Alexander a chance to return to college if they don’t like how draft day went, they could use a Mulligan. That option’s not available to Alexander, who could have developed into a lottery pick had he stayed at Kansas for three years as Robinson did.

Sad, but a nice lesson for others contemplating jumping too soon.

Comments

Gavin Fritton 6 years, 10 months ago

This pretty much nails it.

I don't bear any ill will toward Cliff. I sure would have liked to have had him in March, but I don't pretend to understand his family's circumstances. so I certainly can't sit in judgment of his mother for doing what she did.

But, wow, it sure does look like she took a short term gain in favor of a long term sure thing. And comparing him to T-Rob seems apt because no matter how bad hings were for Cliff's family, I refuse to believe they were worse than they were for Thomas and his poor little sister.

Cliff, I wish you the best. Truly I do. Once you wear the crimson and the blue, you're always in the family. But I also have a feeling that the best thing you might do for future Jayhawks is serve as an object lesson. That's not me hoping. That's me hoping that I am WRONG.

Marius Rowlanski 6 years, 10 months ago

I saw player after player drafted that I believe were not as good as Alexander but had completed at least a couple of years at a D1 program. Jay Bilas had Alexander going early in the 2nd round - or at least one of the top 10 players available starting near the end of the 1st round but it never happened.

I like your post and also hope Cliff can somehow earn his way on an NBA team.

Rodney Crain 6 years, 10 months ago

Agree Gavin, but he compounded it with his less than positive comments about KU and Self.

It is fairly obvious what happened on and off the court with Cliff. Trying to deflect some of that at KU, Self, is just poor form. The the NBA execs. and the media that follows them know better. It made a bad situation worse for you. You have to start making good decisions or this will never turn around for you.

You might not get a real chance to play in the NBA without logging some seasons overseas and showing better maturity.

John Fitzgerald 6 years, 10 months ago

I haven't paid much attention to Cliff, but what were his less than positive comments on Self and KU?

Glen Miller 6 years, 10 months ago

There are a few on this site..... he was constantly kind of schiding KU with little zingers.

Rodney Crain 6 years, 10 months ago

Cliff appeared to let out some frustration with the program during a pre-draft video interview with DraftExpress.com. It was subtle but the message was clear it was not all his fault. It came across as "if I had to do it over again I would not come to KU, it was not a good fit".

Those kind of comments never have an upside. The right way to play this is to work hard, put it behind you and change the things you can change, like the future.

Mark Lindrud 6 years, 10 months ago

During the draft when discussing Cliff, his negative commentary was mentioned and I believe it was Jay Bilas who said this may have ruined his draft chances because of his negativity. When that is discussed on live TV during the draft, you have virtually ruined your draft chances and I was not shocked that he was not drafted.

David Lara 6 years, 10 months ago

IMO, after re-reading Cliff's supposed negative comments I didn't really understand them as a knock on KU. I could see how it could be interpreted that way, but I cannot be convinced from what he said that he was trying to speak down on KU. I think it's only the interpretation of sensitive KU fans.

Ashwin Rao 6 years, 10 months ago

Players' English is not their best suite. I believe that he was trying to say that he had a bad situation "while at" KU..., or at least that is my interpretation, and I am going to stick with it!

Allan Olson 6 years, 10 months ago

Keegan might have added a previous bad road map situation very familiar to KU fans...JaRon Rush. He made so many wrong decisions as a teenager that he destroyed his basketball future. However, Kareem and Brandon learned from his mistakes and became NBA veterans and millionaries, after three college years. JaRon listened to people telling him what his talent wanted to hear. His brothers saw JaRon's decisions and listened to their coaches.

Cliff 's offensive skills, in one season of DIV 1 ball, never progressed one iota. from the high school slam dunk. He also did not make any strides forward in passing and not-foul defensive. Just coasting to the NBA, unlike Kelly who got the Self message and will now have a three year contract. Two highly touted freshmen at same place, same time, same coach; one worked to perfect his game, the other worked to perfect his excuses. No wonder the NBA will be turned off by Cliff for a long time. I see Eastern Europe in Cliff's future.

Clarence Haynes 6 years, 10 months ago

Alexander's family learned a tough lesson! Yes, he had a tough season last year but had it not been for the agent giving ill founded money to a family member, Cliff might've had a longer college career in which he could've had more time to develop. Unfortunate. I do hope that there is an invaluable lesson to be learned from this by those associated with promising athletes.

Brianna Zaleski 6 years, 10 months ago

Gavin,

"But I also have a feeling that the best thing you might do for future Jayhawks is serve as an object lesson. "

This is so well stated and such a good point. Good for you for getting to the heart of the matter and finding the only true silver lining. Cliff WILL be used as an example by coach Self towards future kids who are thinking of bailing early and are not ready. Even though Cliff's hand was forced a bit, the writing was on the wall early, he had no intention of staying at KU past his freshman year. Hopefully his story/ situation will keep future Jayhawks here one more year.

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 10 months ago

In addition to Gavin's and Rodney's comments, I might add that nothing is guaranteed and the incoming projected OADs better work hard, learn how to play and take responsibility for their own actions and decisions.

Forrest Ranjer 6 years, 10 months ago

I'm just hoping his mom's up for a raise.

Jerry Walker 6 years, 10 months ago

Grantland Rice, Keegan is not...but he hammers home his point. Listen to the wrong people and make the wrong choice and you'll return to your hometown to earn a living riding the back of a garbage truck for the rest of your life.

Yeah...once a Jayhawk always a Jayhawk. But in Cliff's case no one will remember or care. That's too bad.

Ben Levy 6 years, 10 months ago

There is a big assumption here that he would have ever been eligible to play for KU again if he had come back. I don't understand why everybody ignores the fact that Cliff's hand was 100% forced, he couldn't make the decision to come back without knowing if he could even play. Whether he would have still gone had he had the option to come back, nobody knows, but his hand was completely forced.

Jerry Walker 6 years, 10 months ago

Agreed that his hand was forced...but it was the hand that was dealt by Cliff and his family. I certainly don't know the actual facts but I'm hard pressed to believe that Cliff was unaware of his mother's decision to violate NCAA rules.

Ben Levy 6 years, 10 months ago

Whoever's fault it was, when it came time to decide whether to enter the draft what was done was done. Even if it was entirely Cliff's fault, which seems highly unlikely, it still left him with no choice regarding the draft. Whether he had a say in the hand he held or not it wasn't the choice that Krug thinks it was.

Yolanda Gay 6 years, 10 months ago

Totally agree. I don't think Cliff had a choice. I don't think there was an option for him to return to KU. I think it would have been risky for KU to have Cliff return.

Ben Levy 6 years, 10 months ago

Riskier for Cliff I think, KU could just sit him, as they did at the end of the season.

Yolanda Gay 6 years, 10 months ago

Cliff's Mom is the blame for Cliff's situation. No one else. Cliff's comment about playing time at KU might have been innocent; but some GMs might have taken it the wrong way. But I think Cliff was better than some of the choices selected in the 2nd round. It would be nice to find out why the GMs didn't want to take a chance on Cliff.

I hope he finds a team that will be a great fit for him; work his butt off in the summer leagues; and make a NBA roster.

Glen Miller 6 years, 10 months ago

You must be related to Cliff, because this sounds like something he would say. IF he'd have done the things needed before his mom screwed up, he'd have been drafted in the 1st round. He did not, so although his hand was forced..... he didn't do himself any favors from the time he faked everyone out on the hat selection to the time the 2015 NBA draft drew to a close. He is always placing blame on others and you sound just like him. His mom didn't help, but this was all Cliff.

Page Butler 6 years, 10 months ago

Something makes me feel that he may have been blackballed by the NCAA to punish him somehow for his mother taking money. He can be used as an object lesson by college programs all over as to what can happen if you break the rules. They can tell the kids, "You won't even be drafted". I don't know for sure that the NCAA and NBA work hand in hand like that, but when you see tons of kids drafted with much less ability it makes me wonder.

Damian Glaze 6 years, 10 months ago

Keep in mind it was reported his family's lawyer did not provide the NCAA with requested information. The family did not cooperate with the investigation. So, it is hard to say the NCAA blackballed him when they are working with only one piece of information - the loan application. If he and his family were even considering the option of staying in school, they would have cooperated at least a little more than they did. As many have stated, loan or not he wasn't coming back.

Damian Glaze 6 years, 10 months ago

Cliff and his family aren't the first to have acquired money not in accordance with NCAA rules. In almost every case we have seen, the penalty is about half a season. So, if Cliff and his family would have cooperated with the NCAA investigation perhaps he would have only been ineligible for a half of the coming season and then he would have been able to get back to earning his place in the first round of the draft. I'm not convinced that whatever sum of money they received it would result in complete ineligibility. At worse, I believe it could have been one full season but likely half a season. To say his hand was forced might be giving him too much sympathy but we will never know.

Jonathan Allison 6 years, 10 months ago

If Cliff had cooperated with the investigation and been found to have been in violation of the NCAA amateurism rules, then KU played 3/4 of the season with an ineligible player. The NCAA could call for the forfeiture of games in which KU knowingly or unknowingly played an ineligible player.

It's not inconceivable that KU could have not wanted the family to cooperate with the NCAA investigation and forced Cliff out of the program in an attempt to protect the best interests of KU Basketball.

Damian Glaze 6 years, 10 months ago

When Oklahom's QB (can't remember which one) received impermissible benefits while working at a car delership; the team didn't have any knowledge of it and none of their games were brought into question or threatened to be vacated. KU would have to known about it and tried to sweep it under the rug; or assisted in the act of getting the loan for the games to be vacated. Vacated games for a situation like this haven't happened before on such an isolated incident and I have to believe it would take a lot more than this situation to cause that action against KU. Possible - slightly; but highly doubtful.

Glen Miller 6 years, 10 months ago

Let me start by saying that I harbor no ill will towards the kid and wish him the best of luck. That being said, this is why landing top recruits can backfire sometimes. By all accounts, he was a lock to be a lottery pick after one year of college before he even stepped foot on Campus. Let's take a trip down memory lane and see just how we got to this point.

1st action as a Jayhawk - the "fake out" of the Illinois cap. This worried me when I watched it happen. Kids will be kids and what can you expect out of a teenager? But honestly, that immaturity would be a staple of his time here at Kansas.

His time on the court - He had strong games.... but he had more games that were so so or just awful. He has a very low basketball IQ and it was apparent that his athletic ability was going to be what he hung his hat on, not necessarily making himself better. He often tried to muscle things too much. He didn't seem to grasp the inner workings of our offense and defense, often times almost lucking into being in position on defense and offense both. Where there was 1 foul, there were 2 more soon to follow. He just plain looked lost. Again, he is young and had to learn the system, but he wasn't progressing at all really and that was alarming.

His time off the court - Seems like he did what was needed to get by. I never heard the workout reports of other players trying to be the best. I heard he was improving in practice, but not anything about taking his own time to work on things and become a better teammate.

His social savy - Wayyyy too much look at me (although his dad didn't help this). He seemed a bit selfish and pouted when he didn't get the minutes he wanted. He held a grudge after he was suspended and it spilled over into his interviews that I would read after he declared. Often times somewhat bad mouthing KU. As Bilas said last night, I think teams saw this and were off put by it. He should have hired a PR advisor to keep him from saying such bone headed things repeatedly.

I don't know about you guys, but I'm not shocked that we are where we are with Cliff. Is he talented? Yes. Is he better than some guys drafted? No doubt. Is he good enough athletically to play in the NBA? Yes..... but his maturity needs to improve quite a bit and his work ethic needs to ramp up. It's obvious he was dealt a bad hand by his mom doing whatever she did, but not being drafted is on him and him alone. All I have heard is the blame game from Cliff. It's time to shut up and humble yourself. Get your butt in the gym and carry a chip on your shoulder. Then I would be doing anything possible to show that i belong, even if you have to go over seas for a year or two.

Harlan Hobbs 6 years, 10 months ago

A lot of very insightful comments today, but I want to lend my voice in support of Gavin's post. I don't recall seeing a "Gavin" post before, but I hope that he becomes a regular.

I also want to commend Rodney today. He has taken some shots in the past for his posts, but today he offered a very keen point about Cliff's comments about KU and Coach Self after he left.

Granted Cliff never really slammed his KU experience directly, but there sure were a lot of subtle inferences like "you'll have to ask Bill Self about that", etc. which smells of blaming others for his shortcomings.

The truth is that Cliff had a less than lustrous performance as a Jayhawk. Bill Self is certainly one of the best coaches in the country, mainly because he coaches based on principle. Those who give the effort and perform are the ones who play.

Cliff had his moments at KU, but more often than not, he was a disappointment. He alone is responsible for that. I would chalk it up to mostly a lack of maturity, which he clearly would have gained by following the Thomas Robinson model.

Finally, although I am a novice at journalism, this editorial article is excellent. Thanks and congratulations Mr. Keegan.

Brianna Zaleski 6 years, 10 months ago

What other choice does Rodney have after Shannon 8itch slapped him yesterday?.. Its so much easier to come on here and just give your insight on the program, players, articles etc., then to come on here trolling for a fight. Which is what Rodney does on the regular.

Rodney does make good points on here regularly, but has lost almost all chance to be taken at face value with his/ hers repeated attempts to engage others in petty bickering and name calling. If he/ she would stick to the points/ subject matter, then he would get more respect.

Rodney Crain 6 years, 10 months ago

Brianna this might shock you, but I do not go back and read everything you simple minded folks post after me. Especially after I say what I want to say. If it is not obvious to you by now, and for you this might be over your head, I don't really care what people like Shannon says on every single thing I post. I do not respect Shannon since I think like others on here he (?) just wants to try to show he will stand up to me in some form of false Bravado to protect the pride of the Crismon and Blue instead of making an actual point. It is amazing how many just want to put me down and actually do not disagree with me. Look at what they say, they actually do not disagree with my point.

I rarely start the petty bickering but like others who have lost perspective however I will defend myself against it if I want to, so (wrong again Bri)

You assume I care, you think Shannon showed me, I did not see what he said, still have not from the way you took it sounds like tripe (Wrong again Bri). I have been kind of busy, its summer lots to do outside if you have not noticed. I obviously dont care what Shannon or Brett, or Tommy Jones, or you think either.

Now if you think I care about face value with folks like you or any of the other blind faithful on here you again have missed why I post on here. When I have to seek the approval of the posters on this site, I might as well just give up. Trust me that will not happen. (wrong again Bri)

Lastly I do not care about any respect any of you give me, especially you. (wrong again Bri) I actually would prefer you all just moved on without your "Snide" comments directed at me like the one you provided here. Is that a 8itch slap? I do not keep score like you do.... See Bri you did not disagree with what I said on this thread, you did not add much either, you just made a snide comment about me. Who is not sticking to the points or subject matter here? Looks like you Bri.... (wrong again Bri)

Just so you know I am going out so I will not read whatever brillaint reply you think you are making either. So... hammer away, you might as well be yelling at the wall though, like preaching to the pathetic choir. :) Its sunny here, it does that a lot during the summer, imagine that. Open a window Bri look outside there is a whole world out there that does not care at all what you think on here...

Jerry Walker 6 years, 10 months ago

What a pathetic rejoinder to criticism. A large ego and a small brain produces little worth reading in internet forums.

Tim Bingaman 6 years, 10 months ago

I don't care if you don't care about how much I admire you, Rodney, but I do just the same.... who am I kidding. I would love to have you give me one of your smiley faces! please...

Greg Ledom 6 years, 10 months ago

Cliff won't be made an example of by Self than any other myriad of examples that could be used. Examples come every year the draft occurs. Here's how I see it. If the experts all say your a lock for the lottery, then you go regardless. No reason to turn down guaranteed money. In Cliff's case he was far from that, but he also had little choice. The NCAA would have ruled him ineligble and thus couldn't have returned to KU anyway. Unfortunately, due to his mom's error in judgment and most likely lack of knowledge of the overall impact of her decision, Cliff was left with very few options. I for one believe he would have returned for a second year at KU had the NCAA cleared him in time for him to decide as the 'data' simply didn't suggest he should go. I guess we'll never know, but I certainly wish Cliff the best of luck. If he works his tail off, he'll make some decent money somewhere playing the game he loves.

John Randall 6 years, 10 months ago

Glen Miller is someone I haven't noticed comments from, but he makes points others miss:

… his athletic ability was going to be what he hung his hat on, not making himself better

… Where there was 1 foul, there were 2 more soon to follow.

… he wasn't progressing at all really and that was alarming. Seems like he did what was needed to get by. I heard he was improving in practice, but not anything about taking his own time to work on things and become a better teammate.

… His social savy - Wayyyy too much look at me (although his dad didn't help this).

… pouted when he didn't get the minutes he wanted.

… his maturity needs to improve quite a bit and his work ethic needs to ramp up.

… not being drafted is on him and him alone. All I have heard is the blame game from Cliff. It's time to shut up and humble yourself. Get your butt in the gym and carry a chip on your shoulder. Quit whining and start doing anything possible to show that you belong, even if you have to go over seas for a year or two.

Most of the commenters here just want to promote sympathy for Cliff or for KU and HCBS. This guy sees more of what really happened. We can all look away now, but that won't help us to learn and grow ourselves.

John Randall 6 years, 10 months ago

Glen Miller is someone I haven't noticed comments from, but he makes points others miss:

… his athletic ability was going to be what he hung his hat on, not making himself better

… Where there was 1 foul, there were 2 more soon to follow.

… he wasn't progressing at all really and that was alarming. Seems like he did what was needed to get by. I heard he was improving in practice, but not anything about taking his own time to work on things and become a better teammate.

… His social savy - Wayyyy too much "look at me" (although his dad didn't help this).

… pouted when he didn't get the minutes he wanted.

… his maturity needs to improve quite a bit and his work ethic needs to ramp up.

… not being drafted is on him and him alone. All I have heard is the blame game from Cliff. It's time to shut up and humble yourself. Get your butt in the gym and carry a chip on your shoulder. Quit whining and start doing anything possible to show that you belong, even if you have to go over seas for a year or two.

Most of the commenters here just want to promote sympathy for Cliff or for KU and HCBS. This guy sees more of what really happened. We can all look away now, but that won't help us to learn and grow ourselves.

Damian Glaze 6 years, 10 months ago

For those that want to read a lengthy article on penalties with "impermissible" benefits here you go.

http://redlineproject.org/jacksonncaa.php

Andrew Dunlap 6 years, 10 months ago

my heart goes out to the kid. He and his family have never had much and they took a chance on getting there as son as possible. He was never projected to be a lottery pick so despite the infractions, he should have played his way into the lottery or improved his chances of getting drafted. I hoe he catches on.

Harlan Hobbs 6 years, 10 months ago

I stand by my compliment of Rodney as it pertains to his initial post to this article. However, I am almost sorry I brought it up since it apparently provoked the need for a couple of people to get into a spitting match.

All in all, I have learned a good deal from the perspectives of the individuals who have posted their thoughts about this article by Mr. Keegan. Also, I will join those who wish Cliff well, but I plan to move on and focus on the people we have and not the ones we don't.

Colby Hebert 6 years, 10 months ago

If the family needed money so badly, why did he not go overseas and play a season of pro ball, something like Mudiay did.

Undrafted after he was the 3rd overall recruit out of high school the year before..Crazy...

Allin Herring 6 years, 10 months ago

Cliff was another one of Bills highly touted top ten recruit who was a bust the day he hit Lawrence. He was slow, could not shoot anything but a dunk and could never play defense and was a foul machine. Was he better than some of the late 2nd round picks? Who knows he spent to much time on the bench due to being out of shape and not buying into who HCBS was trying to show him. He came in thinking he was a lottery pick and never proved I! And then enter his money hungry parents. Couldn't wait anther 8 months to cash in and now what do they have. Cliff should become the all time example of the dangers of recruiting OAD's Except for Wiggins give me Ellis, Selden and Mason

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