It’s time for your Cliff Alexander update, Illini Nation.
If you’re a Metallica fan, I don’t need to explain my choice of headline to you.
And if you’re a Metallica fan, you also know that you don’t just tell people what your favorite band is, you SCREAM IT! YEAH, METALLICA!!! RARRRRR! (CC brilliant comedian and social theorist Jim Breuer). And Illini Nation possesses a similar zeal for landing Cliff Alexander that metalheads have for their hard guitar driven music.
So here’s the latest, up to the minute developments on the Cliff Alexander recruitment.
He won’t cut his list before announcing at 3 p.m. CST Friday on ESPNU. Alexander is considering DePaul, Illinois, Kansas and Memphis.
Mike Oliver, Alexander’s coach at Curie High school on the southwest side of Chicago, said three of his four schools visited Alexander last week in Chicago — and Kansas was not one of them.
The two in-state schools, Illinois and DePaul came twice. Memphis visited once.
It’s thought that KU is focusing more on the other blue chip big man in Chicago, Whitney Young’s Jahlil Okafor, who is expected to choose between the Jayhawks and Duke. Coincidentally, they face other at the United Center in Chicago. Okafor, rated the #1 recruit overall in the nation, will attend the game.
Don’t consider Kansas out of the mix for Cliff Alexander just because they’re focusing more on Okafor. Cliff Alexander has spoken very highly of KU and his relationship with assistant coach Jerrance Howard.
Yes, the same Howard who was an assistant at Illinois under Bruce Weber, and did a very good job recruiting a lot of the top prospects the Illini have landed in recent years. It is thought, rightfully or wrongfully, that Howard picked up the slack in Champaign for Weber when it comes to recruiting, because recruiting wasn’t exactly Bruce’s strong point.
It’s not quite Thanksgiving yet, but let’s talk turkey. Let’s get to the meat and potatoes.
Where is Cliff Alexander going to play college basketball?
Well, that crystal ball prediction thing that we all love incessantly checking like a stock ticker currently has Illinois leading, with 52% to Kansas 43%.
Also, the AAU Coach of Cliff Alexander said that he’s 99% sure Cliff is going to pick Illinois. And if there’s one thing I know about college basketball recruiting, it’s that AAU basketball is way more important than high school basketball, and that AAU loyalties almost always trump Prep loyalties.
Just bear in mind that what an AAU Coach says doesn’t clinch anything. It’s not a done deal.
However, it’s also as telling a sign as you can find.
In addition to Cliff Alexander, Okafor and Tyus Jones, the #5 recruit in the nation, will also announce on Friday on 3 pm CST. Both Okafor and Jones have said many times that they plan on going to the same school. Kansas and Duke are the primary ones involved, with Baylor also in the mix. The Chicago Tribune reported and later retracted a statement from the father of Okafor saying that Cliff Alexander and Jahlil Okafor will attend different schools. Both Jones and Okafor tweeted their announcement plans Monday. Alexander made his announcement plan weeks ago.
Sunday night’s Illini basketball game had an interesting development. The recruiting of Cliff Alexander made an impact on the blowout of Jacksonville State. In the closing seconds of the game, the upper sections of the Assembly Hall crowd chanted “We want Cliff! We want Cliff!” Then the Orange Krush Illinois student section joined in.
So Friday is shaping up to be a HUGE DAY, even though the early signing period, begins tomorrow.
Finally, I close with the latest from the person who’s been ahead of the curve in reporting the recruitment of Cliff Alexander. That would be Taylor Rooks of Fox Sports. She covers Illini recruiting for Fox’s Scout website. As has already been pointed out on an Illini message board, yes Taylor and I share the same corporate media mothership, so yes I’m a little biased here. I admit that. (And this site’s colors are blue and orange, and I graduated from the University of Illinois, hail from Palos Heights, a 25 minute drive from Curie high school, worked in the CPS in that neighborhood, grew up going to Midway Airport which is 5 minutes way from Curie, I’m a political leftist…blah blah blah…liberal media bias…fanboy journalism…etc. etc. etc. whatever)
But having the same corporate parent of sorts does not take away from the fact that she’s been doing good work on this story. She’s like the smartest kid in the class on exam day. The rest of us are trying to copy off her Scantron answer sheet.
Her latest tweet on the topic:
I asked Cliff A (@humblekid11) if he knows where he is going, right now, at this moment. He says “No.” Maybe things can change before Friday
— Taylor Rooks Sports (@ImTaylorRooks) November 12, 2013
Catch me Tuesdays at 10:30 AM Central talking Illini and Northwestern for KOZN Omaha, Fox Sports Radio
Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. He’s also an analyst for multiple news talk radio stations across the country; with regular weekly segments on NBC and Fox Sports Radio. Follow him on Twitter (@paulmbanks) and RSS