Kansas beats out Illinois for No. 3 prospect Cliff Alexander

By Jeff Borzello | College Basketball Writer

If the 2014 class has been highlighted by drama and unpredictability, Cliff Alexander's recruitment epitomized that storyline. Over the past few months, at least three or four teams have been deemed the favorite – and even over the final 24 hours before Alexander's decision, three teams seemed to be the pick.

In the end, it was Kansas for the Chicago big man.

Alexander chose the Jayhawks over Illinois, DePaul and Memphis.

Friday's announcement was just the final domino in a topsy-turvy recruitment. He burst onto the scene as a high school freshman, and his recruitment picked up rather quickly. Michigan State was the heavy favorite early on, and the Spartans still seemed to be the leader prior to the AAU season. Kentucky made its play and moved to the forefront – before falling back rather quickly. Late in the summer, it appeared Kansas and Illinois were the ones with momentum, but DePaul and Memphis also had their moments in the sun for Alexander. The Fighting Illini had most of the momentum the past couple of weeks, but an unofficial visit last weekend to Lawrence stemmed the tide and the Jayhawks restaked their claim. The relationship between Kansas assistant Jerrance Howard (who recruited Alexander while he was at Illinois) and Alexander, as well as the fact Alexander's girlfriend attends Kansas, were keys.

Alexander, a 6-foot-9 big man from Curie (Ill.), is ranked No. 3 in the 247Sports Composite for the class of 2014. He is as college-ready as anyone in the country, and his strength and build will enable him to be a dominant force next season in the Big 12. Alexander is an extremely strong rebounder, and his 260-lb. frame gives him the edge in most battles on the boards. He's very tough and has a good motor. Once he develops consistent back-to-the-basket moves, Alexander is going to be an absolute force.

Kansas only has two commitments in the class of 2014, but they are both elite-level players. Alexander joins five-star small forward Kelly Oubre, the No. 7-ranked player in the 247Sports Composite. He chose Kansas over Kentucky last month. But Bill Self probably isn't done in 2014. Texas big man Myles Turner is still a target, and an interesting prospect to watch could be five-star guard Jaquan Lyle. The former Louisville commit is close with Alexander, and Self could be looking for a point guard.

The Jayhawks will obviously see Andrew Wiggins leave for the NBA, although center Joel Embiid and guard Wayne Selden are also potential lottery picks. Tarik Black is the lone senior – and Alexander will slide in perfectly as his replacement.

 
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