Alexander Sorting It Out

Cliff Alexander has had a busy summer so far, playing in tournaments all over the country while drawing coaches from all over the country. He's narrowing his focus on his recruitment and gave us the latest here.

Cliff Alexander @ Summer Jam: Cliff Alexander has had a busy spring and summer on the AAU circuit. Recently, he and his Mac Irvin Fire team competed at Peach Jam. Even though the teams were the same as the rest of the EYBL circuit, the level and intensity of competition was completely different.

"It was great down there playing against great teams and great competition," Alexander said. "We didn't get the job done and win the championship, but we were hoping to win it all. It was a lot more intense there."

The action continued for Alexander following Peach Jam with stops in both Vegas for a Nike camp and then in Wisconsin for another tournament.

"I was out in Vegas at the Lebron camp and thought I had a great camp," he said. "Then we went 2-0 in Milwaukee so that was good."

But why stop there? Alexander continued his tour in Highland, IN at the Chicago Summer Jam. He got off to a bit of a slow start in the first half but turned it on close to halftime after his coach lit a fire under him.

"Coach Nick (Irvin) told me to get it together and play hard," he said. "He's tough on me sometimes."

And all along the way during the live period, Alexander has had numerous coaches at his games. Sometimes he sees them, but most of the time he's focused on the game.

"I notice them sometimes," he said. "but they usually don't tell me until after my games that they were there."

Two coaches with Illinois ties have been chasing Alexander all across the country throughout the summer. It's no secret that John Groce has been at almost every one of Alexander's games this summer, and Kansas assistant and former Illinois assistant Jerrance Howard has started to follow suit, making several of Alexander's games as well.

"I see Coach Groce a lot," Alexander said. "I see Coach Howard a lot too. Coach Groce and I have built a great relationship this past year. He did great things at Ohio. And with Coach Howard, he was the first guy to recruit me back when he was at Illinois. He's been like a friend to me."

The relationships Alexander is forming with the coaches recruiting him are becoming more and more important as time goes on. The programs still in the running for Alexander have earned a spot at the table, but relationships may set the schools apart when it's all said and done.

"The relationship with the coach is really factoring in bigtime," he said. "My comfort level with the coach is big too. I need to make sure I fit their system and all that."

Alexander has found time in his busy schedule this summer to get around to a few schools. The most recent of those visits was to Michigan State.

"Michigan State was good," he said, "I talked to Izzo and went around campus a bit. We just kind of hung out."

Alexander also visited Kansas a few weeks ago. He has a long-standing relationship with Coach Howard, but he also enjoyed spending time with head coach Bill Self.

"I also have a good relationship with Coach Self," Alexander said. "It's a beautiful campus. I love the practice facility."

Illinois also got a visit from the big man, but this time around he brought someone else who will factor just as much into his recruitment.

"I've been down to Illinois a lot but I went down there to show my mom around," he said. "She loves it there. She's built a great relationship with Coach Groce, and she got to meet a lot of people. She loved it."

At this point, Alexander has already formed strong relationships with the coaches that are pursuing him, but he did stress the importance of a program's relationship with his family, specifically his parents.

"That's the main thing right there," he said. "Building a great relationship with my family is important."

Everyone's been dying to know where Alexander plans to take his official visits. He knows four of them for sure at this point, and he also left the door open for a couple more unofficial visits.

"I'll probably set my visit list at the end of the summer," he said. "I know I'll be visiting Kansas, Memphis, Arizona, and Louisville for sure. I'll probably go to Illinois and Michigan State again anytime."


Illini Inquirer Top Stories