No 3. men’s basketball recruit Cliff Alexander spurns DePaul, chooses Kansas

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It came down to the wire but highly touted men’s basketball recruit Cliff Alexander chose Kansas University over three other schools, including DePaul and Illinois, at Curie High School Friday.

“I’ve been confused for the last week,” Alexander said. “I was thinking ‘do I want to go here or do I want to go there?'”

Alexander was third highest prospect for the 2014 recruiting class from ESPN’s rankings and was choosing between Kansas, DePaul, Memphis and Illinois. After the ceremony he said that he hadn’t made up his mind until that morning. He said that his family played a big part in helping him choose.

“Me and my family did a lot of talking and a lot of thinking and we just came down to it,” Alexander said. “My mom and dad played a big part and (Curie) coach Mike (Oliver) played a big role as well.”

Alexander said that the decision came down to Kansas and Illinois, eliminating DePaul and Memphis. When he announced his decision he made a move towards the Illinois hat before putting it down and putting on the Kansas hat, teasing Illini fans. Alexander later said that his teammates told him to do it.

When asked about his decision not to play for DePaul, Alexander said that the lack of recent success from the Blue Demons was a factor, but the current roster didn’t have anything to do with his decision. Alexander also mentioned that he wanted to get away from his hometown.

“I decided I didn’t want to stay home,” Alexander said. “I’ve been living here for 17 years and wanted to experience something new.”

He would go on to say that head coach of Kansas Bill Self was a big reason in his decision to become a Jayhawk.

“Bill Self is a great guy. I like how he coaches and how he gets the ball to the bigs,” he said.

At Kansas, Alexander joins what will likely be an all-star cast of supporting teammates. The university already has Kelly Oubre, ESPN’s 10th ranked recruit, committed and Alexander indicated that fellow Chicagoan JaQuan Lyle, the 39th ranked recruit, is likely to join them. 

Alexander said he doesn’t mind playing with three or four All-American type players instead of being “the man.”

“I thought about establishing my own legacy in Illinois,” Alexander said. “I’m ready to do whatever. I’m ready to do whatever it takes to get to where I want to be.

“I need to come in and do what I need to do. Play my role so we can win a national championship,” he said. Alexander led Curie to a class 4A sectional semifinal as a junior, averaging 21.3 points a game. They ended up losing to Jahlil Okafor-led Whitney Young. Okafor, who was also considering Kansas, picked Duke moments before Alexander announced his intent to play at Kansas but he said that Okafor’s decision didn’t affect his.

“We actually talked about playing together,” he said.

However he did say later that he probably would have chosen Illinois had Okafor chosen Kansas.

Alexander didn’t sign a letter of intent, only committing verbally to Kansas. He said that he came to this decision after advisement from his family. He also said that he plans to sign a letter of intent in January but that his mind is set.

“There’s no chance I will change my mind,” he said. “I’m set.”

Alexander said that he plans on declaring for the NBA Draft after his first year at Kansas instead of staying to get his degree.

“One and done then planning on coming back and getting my degree,” Alexander said.

According to ESPN, Alexander was the last five-star recruit still considering DePaul for the 2014 class, leaving DePaul with three recruits still considering for the 2014-2015 season. ESPN lists Josh Cunningham (three-star), Terell Miller (three-star) and Paul Turner (two-star) as the recruits considering the Blue Demons.

DePaul’s incoming recruiting class is currently transfer forwards Rashuan Stimage and Myke Henry along with three-star guard prospect Jon Davis.