It has been a long run for five-star center Cliff Alexander. The athletic and strong Alexander started on the radar as a freshman and then really began to explode the spring following his first year. That is when the offers began flying in.
Michigan State, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, DePaul, Ohio State, and others all quickly jumped into the mix for Alexander, and from that point on it has been a two feet in approach for all of the schools after Alexander.
At least at the beginning the school that far and away seemed to be the leader was Michigan State. The Spartans got involved early, and Alexander himself made no bones about the fact that Michigan State and Kentucky were the two schools that really intrigued him. However things oddly changed when Kentucky offered.
Kentucky offered Alexander, but never seemed sold on him, and after a while the two parties kind of went in different directions. At the same time that was happening it became clear that Michigan State was slipping badly with Alexander and that Illinois and Kansas were gaining a ton of steam.
Eventually Alexander would narrow his list to Illinois, Kansas, and DePaul with all having something going in their favor and a lot of intrigue being built in to the decision.
There is no questioning what Alexander brings to the table. At roughly 6-foot-9 and 240 pounds, Alexander is as big, strong, and athletic as any player in the country. Also Alexander has an elite motor which allows him to dominate so many other bigs who simply can't match his toughness and strength.
Alexander really showed what he was capable of when teamed with fellow five-star Jahlil Okafor. With teams not able to focus solely on him, Alexander was a one man wrecking crew rebounding, scoring, and showing off his interior strength.
He needs to get a bit more refined with his skill game as in college and into the NBA he won't be able to simply overpower and out jump people like he does at the high school level, but what he does translates. Rebounding always translates, and he does that as well as virtually any player in the country, and then his length allows him to compete against taller players.
Overall there is a ton to like about Alexander, and the future is very bright for him, especially once he gets some consistent coaching to refine some post moves.
Brian Snow: For the last few days I have vacillated between Kansas and Illinois. At first the information was fairly sketchy with a little bit of pro-Kansas talk, but now the thought process seems to indicate that he will stay close to home. Illinois has been playing the "hometown hero" card for a while, and Alexander loves that kind of attention, so that might be putting them over the top. Landing Alexander would be a huge statement for John Groce at Illinois, and I think he pulls it off. Prediction: Illinois