Falling Over Cliff

Illinois showed Cliff Alexander the love this weekend while the five-star big man was on his official visit.

Give props to the Illinois students -- they made the most of their role this weekend in the pursuit Cliff Alexander.

Many Illini students shouted out pleas and good words at the five-star 2014 recruit while he was at the football game Saturday.

One group even wore shirts that coordinated #CLIFF.

All the love paid off. At one point, the 6-foot-8, 240-pound Alexander went into the student section and had his photo taken with potential future classmates.

"It was good," Alexander said of the attention. "I love them. They showed a lot of love, more than any other fan bases."

Alexander took his final official visit to Illinois this weekend, accompanied by his family. Most importantly, his mother, Latillia, was along and involved for much of the trip.

"My family loved it, and yes my mom is a big factor," Alexander said.

Saturday he went to the football game and spent the evening hanging out with the Illini players. Freshman point guard Jaylon Tate, a close friend from Chicago, was Alexander's host, and he spent time with essentially the entire roster.

By now, Alexander has heard plenty from John Groce and his staff. According to him, the easy-going comfortable relationship made for his favorite part of the trip, just "having a great time with Groce and the rest of the staff."

Groce and his staff didn't spend much time showing Alexander things around campus. It's been there, done that at this stage in his recruitment. Instead, Groce spent as much time talking to Alexander about life and basketball, furthering their relationship.

"I've always loved Illinois, but I learned that Coach Groce is a real dude," Alexander said.

The main takeaway from their conversations: "I can be a program changer and create my own legacy," Alexander said.

His list is cut to five, but it's regarded by most as a two-team race for Alexander's commitment. He visited Kansas early this month and has a tight bond with the Jayhawks staff, particularly assistant Jerrance Howard.

With his official visits made, Alexander plans to announce his decision Nov. 15.

If Alexander doesn't choose the home-state school, it won't be because he didn't feel the love from everybody involved this weekend.

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