Finally, Cliff Alexander can enjoy his own moment in the sun. Having played second string in terms of local and national perception to fellow Chicago star Jahlil Okafor, Alexander topped Okafor and everyone else to win the 2014 Naismith award for the nation's best player.
Alexander recently helped lead Chicago Curie to a city championship over Okafor and Whitney Young. His dreams of state glory crashed in an early playoff defeat, but in his final high school contest he poured in 25 points, 15 rebounds and eight blocked shots. As always, he went down swinging.
He should be able to recover from the sting of that defeat quickly. His individual performances this season ranged from excellent to dominant, and the selection committee (full disclosure: I am one and voted for him) recognized his efforts.
His next high profile stop will take place in … Chicago. The country's top seniors will flock to the Windy City for McDonald's All-American festivities late this month, and in the various practices and scrimmages Alexander will attempt to prove something that few as yet consider to be true: That he's the No. 1 prospect in the country.
In the meantime, he can relish an accolade that has been a long time coming, with Okafor overshadowing him each step of the way. For now, it's Alexander's turn to command center stage.