Just moments after Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones said no to the Jayhawks by choosing to play ball a Duke, it was up to 6-8, 240 lb Cliff Alexander to save the day. Things were not looking good as Alexander sat in front of his ceremonial hats. The Memphis bill was bent as if it had already been worn and Cliff even grabbed for the Illinois hat momentarily before dropping it for the crimson and blue model to its right. While I am not a fan of that move, I am a fan of Alexander who instantly fits into the Bill Self system.
That may be the most exciting thing about this pickup. This is a true Bill Self power forward type; more along the lines of Thomas Robinson and Darnell Jackson than he is a Perry Ellis or Darrell Arthur. He is a bruiser at heart, but has a ton of athleticism for his size. He should be able to run the floor well in transition, but also play perfectly in the high low half court offense Self likes to rely on. He probably has more natural scoring ability than Thomas Robinson, but at the expense of pure explosive athleticism. Hard to say which you need more of as a freshman, but I think KU fans will be more pleased with Alexander early in his career at Kansas. He has the potential to make a huge difference right from the get-go.
If you are looking for a silver lining from the loss of Okafor and Jones to Duke, I have that for you, too. The way things stand now, KU has filled its likely available scholarships with the signing of Alexander in addition to Kelly Oubre. That is assuming Wiggins goes early and everyone else stays (Black, of course, will also be gone after his final year). This is not a bad position to be in because it lets Self sit back and evaluate the rest of the unsigned class in the context of the season while waiting for the spring signing period. There is a chance that Selden, Embiid and Ellis all declare next year along with Wiggins, but there is also a chance none of them do, and everything in between. That will start to take shape as the season progresses and it will give Self time to feel around. I could see 1-2 of those three leaving which opens the door for Self to add to this class with some of his classic “diamond in the rough” guys ranked in the top 50 but overlooked as a top prospects by some of the other major players. I love those players because they stick around for 2-4 years. They are really the foundation on which KU’s recent run of success is built upon.
Needless to say, Self is on a tear right now with recruiting. These back-to-back stellar classes are similar to the ’06 and ’07 run, and we all know how that turned out. It has been a great week for KU basketball fans.