Another domino has fallen to Kansas and head coach Bill Self, as they lost another “one and done” when freshman forward Cliff Alexander announced that he was declaring for the NBA Draft. The decision caps off a frustrating period for the Chicago big man and for the Jayhawks, as his tale will be one of the bigger “what ifs” in recent memory.
Alexander missed the final eight games of the season while the NCAA was investigating him for an issue. If was uncertain if he’d get the opportunity to return to Kansas next year and with his decision, it was all rendered moot.
“This should come as no surprise to anybody,” Self said in a statement. “Cliff had a very interesting and educational year. He was a major contributor to our team from the beginning of the season. He worked his way into the starting lineup and has had to deal with an off-the-court issue with the NCAA that made him ineligible for the last eight games of our season. We all feel bad for Cliff for what he and our team had to go through because it was difficult for him to sit and watch his teammates play without him. During his time here, Cliff certainly got better. I loved coaching Cliff, but we support his decision 100 percent to move on and take his ability to the next level.
“I talked this over with my mom and my dad and we decided the timing was right for me to enter the NBA Draft,” Alexander said in the statement. “Kansas has been a great experience. I enjoyed being on campus. When I came in I didn’t really know much (about playing in college). I was undersized and not strong enough to bang with other guys. As the year went on, I got settled and comfortable with the system. I got stronger in the weight room and competed harder.”
Alexander averaged 7.1 points and 5.3 rebounds a contest for Kansas this season and became a fan favorite. It’s no surprise that the support he received during his short stay made an impact.
“Playing in Allen Fieldhouse… that’s the craziest place I have ever played,” Alexander said about his fondest memory of playing at Kansas. “I’m going to miss the fans. They showed me a lot of love everywhere I went. They are a very supportive fan base. I’m going to miss my teammates a lot. I’m going to miss everybody.”