Who is Cliff Alexander?

  • Banned

    Sometimes a visual can say more than words.

  • @DoubleDD fun stuff! Can’t wait to see him at AFH! I’ll take him over turner, any day! Let’s hope he doesn’t kill anyone, monster at the rim. Thanks for posting!

  • Banned

    Ok I have a visual. So I challenge Jaybate or anybody else to describe Cilff the thunder Alexander in words. Are you up to the challenge?

  • I’m kind of thinking that the dunks won’t come quite as easy next season.

    I guess I’m most curious about his post moves and footwork. We saw a highlight video of Embiid that showed a guy who could handle the ball, use his left hand, and who could get hoops by his footwork. We saw a guy with a package of skills that screamed “impact.”

    @DoubleDD - One word to describe Alexander right now? “Freshman”

  • I am not putting anybody down, but you can’t judge highlight shots of top high school athletes unless you are talking a McD all star game and even then it is geared to offensive flash and not much defense per sey.

    He looks great-they all do. I can’t tell &@%€ until they play against Div1 players.

  • The dunks for sure won’t come as easy, but he has played against Okafor and did quite well. I watched him and Oubre play in all star games, and yes I know they don’t play D in those games. I’m excited, Cliff has a great motor, Self loves those guys! I choose to be hopeful! Ben sounds pretty hopeful w/graham too, so I am too!

  • Players like Cliff Alexander, give teammates confidence. Kind of makes them stick their chest out a little bit. Makes jump shooters less hesitant. Creates more opportunities for other big men due to double teams. He is not laid back. He is an impact player 24/7. Exactly what we need!

  • @KansasComet love the enthusiasm!

  • If I recall Conner Frankamp led all scorers in the McD all star game and shot a record breaking “Near perfect” 30 of 33 in the 3 point contest. I may be off in my stats-and I love Conner, but next level IS next level.

    I’ve learned not to count my eggs with freshman until they are well through a season of Div 1 ball.

    Danny Manning as a soph didn’t show in Dallas in 1986-4 points if memory serves-I was there. As a senior he put the team on his back in the National Championship game.

    I loved the BMAC, WIGS, EMBIID hype but they all show up some games and disappear in others.

    I hope the mix gets us further this year-at least a final four and by gosh I want a NCAA title in the next 3years.


  • I’m kind of thinking that the dunks won’t come quite as easy next season.

    I guess I’m most curious about his post moves and footwork. We saw a highlight video of Embiid that showed a guy who could handle the ball, use his left hand, and who could get hoops by his footwork. We saw a guy with a package of skills that screamed “impact.”

    @DoubleDD - One word to describe Alexander right now? “Freshman”

    @HighEliteMajor Embiid’s talents were undeniable coming in, but Alexander is nothing like Embiid and I’m not remotely concerned that that matters much. As has already been pointed out, his Curie team managed to defeat Okafor’s Whitney Young in an awesome 4 OT outing. He was also clutch in upsetting the No. 1 HS team Montverde Academy which featured 4 ESPN top 100 players (including Ben Simmons, DeAngelo Russell, Noah Dickerson, and Justin Gibbs) in a tournament featuring top HS teams. His game is all athleticism and power, but he does have a great free-throw stroke and soft shooting touch. For all of the similarities, he’s a lot futher ahead than this guy, and he turned out alright:

    TRob Brewster Academy

    And while he doesn’t have his handles, his post game is similar to this guy’s, but with superior athleticism and length:

    Julius Randle Prestwood Christian Academy

    In other words, although he may not be destined to be a consensus All American, there’s every reason to believe his game will translate to the collegiate level.

  • I’ve learned not to count my eggs with freshman until they are well through a season of Div 1 ball.

    @JayhawkRock78 I agree… And your memory of Danny as a sophomore is one that is often overlooked. A star like Manning had flashes of brilliance in his first couple of years, but didn’t pull off the dominating performance necessary get to the NC until he had four years under his belt.

    Self tends to go with experience. Last year was an exception out of necessity.

    This year, I believe that Traylor and Ellis will start at the 4 and 5. I expect to see Greene, Selden and Frankamp/Mason complete the starting five. The freshmen, as good as they are, will need to come off the bench and grow.

    Alexander will be doing well to be first off the bench for Traylor or Ellis – It will mean that he’s beaten out Mickleson and Lucas – both with two years of D1. I feel like that is a slightly greater accomplishment than Embiid being first off the bench for Black (only beating out Traylor as a sophomore).

    Oubre doesn’t need to overcome as much experience to find time on the court. Nor does Graham or Mykhailiuk.

  • @Crimsonorblue22 Always!! That’s me. Positives seem to outweigh the negatives with our basketball program. Thanks!

  • @JayhawkRock78 The Duke game in Dallas in 1986 is one of the worst officiated games ever!!! It is posted on YouTube, if you have never seen it. You can also find the box score online. I cannot fault any Jayhawks for that game, we were robbed.

  • @konkeyDong Well, the point of comparing to Embiid is that Embiid’s translatable skills were quite evident on the videos. Alexander’s is all dunking. It was not to suggest that he didn’t have a game that wouldn’t translate. I’ve seen Alexander play. I think he’ll be fine, too. Definite power game guy.

    And I really think that Ellis’ offensive ability will help Alexander if Alexander can pass out of traffic, double teams, etc.

    Of course, yes, Alexander’s ahead of where TRob was when TRob was a freshman. But with one season only, I would be completely shocked if he was even in the ballpark of TRob’s season #3, which is perhaps an unfair gold standard. But if you’re the presumed OAD, one year, go to draft if ready guy, something significantly south of that doesn’t justify your status. You have to produce immediately. Yes, a Julius Randle like season, or something close, is expected, or it’s a disappointment.

    Really, it’s the net result. What does the team do in March (and April). That’s all that matters in the final analysis.

  • @JayhawkRock78 How many Danny Manning type players will never win a NC because they won’t stick around until their Senior (or Sophomore, for that matter) years?

  • I’m most looking forward to Cliff’s “edge” he will be bringing to the game. We can definitely use a strong emphasis on finishing at the rim.

  • @KansasComet I was there at Reunion arena. I remember Archie Marshall got pretty much tackled on a lay-up and tore up his knee-there was no foul called.

  • @nuleafjhawk Sad to say it probably happens every year.

  • @JayhawkRock78 Thanks, that was a hard game to watch. One of the best Jayhawk teams ever assembled. A shame they didn’t win it all that year.

  • Who is Cliff Alexander?

    He’s from the planet Lovetron.

    We’ve seen his kind before:

  • LJW posted a BallisLife interview in which Rachel DeMita suggested that Oubre might be a big hit with women on KU campus. Alexander responded, “It might be true…he a pretty guy.” Also in the interview, when asked about potential for a very successful Jayhawk season, Oubre cautioned not to discount other powerhouse teams; going on to claim that the Jayhawks would reign supreme because “We’re SAVAGES!” These two sound as though they should be real treats this season. Cheery to hear them sound off before settling in to serious business. BenMac’s early take is that both of them should do quite well.

  • Cliff is a beast and is going to be a fantastic KU player at some point but I don’t know that he will put up Julius Randle type stats this year. Randle rolled out of bed this year with a double double. That is going to be tough to equal for Cliff. He is more raw offensively than some of the posts above suggest. Dunking on kids in high school is not going to translate. He is a big, strong, tough kid with an attitude and I am incredibly excited for him to be at KU but he is a year away from being a stud. I hope that like T Rob (unlike Jo Jo) we get to see him mature into a great post player while still at KU.

  • When I try to decide if a guy can translate to the next level I look at several things.

    First is body type/ athleticism. If you’re an interior player are you tall and strong or just fundamentally sound. This is the difference between a guy like Perry Ellis (exceptional fundamentals) and big Cliff. Cliff is power, explosion, and energy all rolled into one rebound grabbing, rim destroying package that has been slowly chiseled by the harsh Chicago city league. Cliff is big enough and strong enough to compete at the D1 level.

    Second thing I look to is skills. In basketball there are five basic skills - shooting, ball handling (dribbling and passing), defense, rebounding and IQ. The things that translate the most quickly are rebounding and ball handling, because the value of a good rebounder or ball handler is roughly the same across all levels. It may be harder to get your shot off as you move up through levels, it may be harder to guard more seasoned players, and your understanding of the game won’t save you if your skills are woefully overmatched, but if you can handle the ball or rebound, it translates.

    Cliff Alexander is a rebounding monster. I think the Thomas Robinson comp is appropriate. I remember reading once that TRob got 17 rebounds in a high school game with a broken hand. That was all I needed to know to know that Robinson would be an effective collegiate player. Rebounding always has value. Even if Alexander’s post moves don’t translate as well, making him a lesser scorer, he will still get on the floor because he is a great rebounder. Cliff Alexander can find 8 points a night just by getting on the glass. Would I be satisfied if Alexander comes in and averages 8 points and 9 boards? No, because I think he’s better than that. But here’s the thing - I think he’s almost a lock to be at least somewhere close to that.

    Cliff is also a very good shot blocker. When you look at shot blockers, you want to see where they block the shots. Are they a weakside only shot blocker, where they come in from out of nowhere to block a shot, or can they body up and block a shot? Can they go high and block a shot, or do they have to take it out of the hand? Can they block it with control, keeping it in bounds, or do they always toss it into the seats? Can they block shots with either hand?

    Look at the highlight that @DoubleDD posted. At the 0:49 mark, Cliff gets a chase down block with his right hand in transition. That block probably ended up out of bounds. At the 1:03 mark he blocks a shot in the post with the right hand. It looks like the victim may have been Myles Turner. He kept that one in bounds. At 1:08 he comes from the lane and blocks a runner with the right hand, keeping it in bounds. At 1:20 he destroys a layup attempt with his right hand, sending that one out of bounds. At 1:25 he gets another righty block and sparks a potential fast break off a floater. But my favorite (and most important) block is the one at 1:48. He comes across the lane and gets a lefty block on what looks to be a jump hook. Probably put it out of bounds, but he got the lefty block on the move. At 2:10 he gets another righty block that he keeps in bounds and sparks a break that ends with him getting an alley-oop dunk. He gets a lefty block at 2:17 followed by a righty block at 2:19. Both of those blocks are in the paint.

    This highlight video shows basically every type of block you need to see - in transition, across the lane, man to man, weakside, either hand, etc. He blocks big guys, small guys, on the move, in the set defense, in help, etc.

    I can’t imagine that Cliff will be anything less than an average defender, with the potential to be above average and possibly even well above average because of his strength and timing. He’s not an out of control swinger. He can direct a block when he wants to and understands that doing so can get his team out in transition. That should all translate, particularly because he wasn’t just swatting the shots of 5-10 guards.

    So really, the questions surround how good he can be offensively as a scorer and whether he can handle the ball well enough when he gets double teamed. His footwork is adequate, but not great. Since he’s not a 6-11, 7-0 guy, his footwork will have to improve on the offensive end to get him the same results that he saw in high school. I’m not sure what type of passer he is, but my guess is he’s going to be below average (maybe even well below average) because most high school bigs don’t see strong double teams like they will see in college. This is because most high school teams can’t send a second guy (don’t even have a second guy) strong enough to actually confront a guy as big and strong and tough as Cliff. Colleges will be able to. That will be a challenge for him, as it is for most high school bigs moving to college.

    His hoops IQ actually looks to be solid. I need to be able to watch him play more so I can see him off the ball, but he seemed to be engaged enough to block shots on rotation and run the floor well. He has been hyped as a guy that can rebound out of area, which means he either has excellent anticipation or pursuit skills.

    I’m not worried about his ability to move to college.

  • @justanotherfan nice ratings! Remember, Embiid couldn’t pass out of a double team at the first of the season either. I also read somewhere that Cliff hasn’t played ball long either, maybe started 8th grade?

  • @justanotherfan Nice summary … great post.

    On thing I really agree with on with Alexander is the rebounding component. “Want to”, athleticism, length, and attitude … wow.

    All reports are that he is a “plus” defender.

    Not being too crazy here, but he could be a TRob (year 3) type rebounder by the second half of the season.

  • @HighEliteMajor “well”, we wouldn’t want you to get to crazy, right?

  • @HighEliteMajor

    I would put Alexander somewhere between above average and well above average as a defender. Not quite big enough or versatile enough to be elite, but should be a very good defender from day one.

    I think he could be a better version of TRob. He is further along as a player than Robinson was when he arrived at KU. I could see Alexander staying two years and being a very good to elite player before he leaves. I don’t think you saying he approaches TRob as a rebounder is crazy. I think it’s likely. Or maybe I’m crazy.

  • How about…

    Shock and Awe!!!


    Shock and Awe-lexander!!!

  • @JayhawkRock78

    If I recall Conner Frankamp led all scorers in the McD all star game and shot a record breaking “Near perfect” 30 of 33 in the 3 point contest. I may be off in my stats-and I love Conner, but next level IS next level.

    Frankamp broke Ellis scoring record for the Wichita HS League, he also led the Under 17 Team in scoring and to a Gold Medal in the FIBA tournament; however, Frankamp did not make the McDonald All-America team and did not play in the McD All-Star game.

  • @JayHawkFanToo OOPS!!! My bad- my memory is playing tricks on me.

  • Banned

    @justanotherfan Thanks for the post. I was impressed with his block around the 2:11 mark not only did he block it but was able to make it down to the other end in time to slam the alley-op

    I know my visual is a dunk fest, however anybody can tell this guy wastes no time getting to the rim. My biggest concern is that he maybe too aggressive (if there is such a thing).

    Can he have that patience to pass out of that double team? That we all know is coming.

  • @DoubleDD I’m okay with his aggression because I want him attacking the rim rather than just looking to get layups. When he gets into the restricted area, he can get those dunks. My concern on the double teams is when he catches outside the paint, because everyone knows if he gets that deep position how it’s going to end…glass flying, Robinzine crying…

    Outside the paint he has to be able to see the floor and make the right decisions. That will take some time.

  • He does have a drop-step spin move, and then has the strength to elevate for the dunk. We’ll see how he does against equal sized, Div.1 level opponents. Its all about mindset. Thomas Robinson wouldnt be denied. Nasty streak+swagger needed. Especially on our roster after last year.

  • First, I’m really happy to have a player with the size, strength and motor that Alexander appears to have.

    But I haven’t seen anything but his highlight feed, which doesn’t show much back to basket game, or much challenged shooting from 15-22 feet.

    Having a drop step is great for a big man, but to keep defenders from simply standing in front of the drop step one has to have a turn around J, or a jump hook that is money. And to really get any room to work, Cliff has to be able to shoot it from 15-20 feet, so he can lane drive a la Marcus Morris, TRob, etc. Traylor was beginning to show signs of being able to lane drive and even make a 15 footer late last season. He didn’t look smooth yet, but he was doing it. For Cliff to beat out Jam Tray, for minutes at the 4 with Ellis, then Cliff has got to have a back to the basket move that complements his drop step, AND he’s got to be able to pop from 15 and lane drive; that’s a tall order even for a guy as talented and driven as he seems to be. Since he is not likely to be able to master all those moves during his first season, it maybe that we will see more of Cliff at the 5, when opposing center height permits, where he can just concentrate on rebounding, guarding, lobs and stick backs.

    One thing I REALLY like about Alexander is he has a short neck and long arms, and so he should play a bit taller than 6-8, which would be perfect for his stints at the 5 complementing Ellis and, occasionally Greene at the 4.

    A lot of how much Alexander plays depends on how much improvement Traylor, Lucas and Mickelson have made. I have a hunch Mickelson is going to be an important player this season. But I have a hunch Alexander is going to be an important player this season, because a chairman of the boards is always someone Self can find minutes for.

  • Banned

    @jaybate 1.0 I think I have to agree in one aspect. I think Mickelson is going to be a sleeping giant. It wouldn’t surprise me if he challenges for some starting minutes. If not look for him to come of the bench before the 5 minute mark. I’m like you I’m not sure what the kid can bring, but something tells me he’s going to get some serious playing time.

    As for Alexander I’m thinking the kid is going to be all right as for as getting to the rim. He’s like a pit-bull in a dog fight. If he gets anywhere around the rim somebody is getting dunked on. My worry will he try to do to much when he is double teamed. Meaning early fouls, turnovers, and a trip to the bench.

  • @DoubleDD

    Hope you are right. I know Alexander dunked endlessly on his highlight reel against high schoolers. But dunking on D1 guys big enough to hurt you (and willing to) is another deal. Remember how (was it Texas?) Embiid got flipped and thrown on his back after he started going over everyone? If Alexander had some tough hombres on his team that would retaliate for when he is ripped by some long and strongs, then Alexander might be able to be Dr. Dunk, but one of the things people are not mentioning about this year’s team–I don’t see many guys of the kind willing to get in opponents’ faces. Alexander might be the only one. Maybe Oubre? Oh, well, Jam Tray seems pretty tough. But who else? Haven’t heard about Mickelsons ferocity.

  • Banned

    @jaybate 1.0 I have to be honest I understand my video was against high school kids, but I don’t see anybody throwing Alexander (the thunder) to the ground. If they do I bet they wish they wouldn’t have.

    The kid seems to me as not the most talented kid, but piss him off and he might break your face. Just saying. 😃

  • @jaybate 1.0 I don’t think Cliff will be intimidated by many guys! He’s much sturdier than Embiid. I do agree about the foul problem, he’s pretty swat happy, as are most of our guys. I’m sure he will be double teamed as Embiid was, but he will figure it out quickly. I watched the quadruple OT game and he did a lot of little stupid things, mistakes, but then I remembered I was watching a high school game. He along w/the rest of 'em have a lot to learn, but we should be excited for the toughness and fire they bring. I like the chassis talk!

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