Cliff Alexander is off to the NBA Draft

Kansas freshman Cliff Alexander has declared for the NBA Draft amidst an NCAA investigation around his eligibility. (Source: NBC Sports)
Kansas freshman Cliff Alexander has declared for the NBA Draft amidst an NCAA investigation around his eligibility. (Source: NBC Sports)
It was one of the more bizarre stories of the 2014-15 season, and it has come to an end at the NCAA level.

Kansas freshman Cliff Alexander officially declared for the NBA Draft on Tuesday, amidst an NCAA investigation surrounding his eligibility with Kansas. Alexander was widely considered to be one of the best freshmen in the country at the start of the season, but was never able to gain any traction as the season progressed. He was never able to live up to the pre-season hype, which made the story that much more compelling to track as the year wore on.

 
The 6’8”, 240-pound freshman only averaged 17.8 minutes per contest this year, and found himself coming off the bench in a good amount of Kansas’ contests. In his limited playing time, Alexander averaged 7.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. His 5.3 rebounds per game were good for second-best on the team.

Coming into the season, Alexander was ranked the #3 prospect by ESPN Recruiting Nation, just behind Texas’ Myles Turner and Duke’s Jahlil Okafor. He was a five-star recruit, but never looked the part during the season.

It didn’t help matters that an NCAA investigation was launched towards the end of the season around his eligibility. Kansas held Alexander out of action until the NCAA investigation was over, which in the end saw him miss the rest of the year. All in all, Alexander missed the last eight games of the year, which included all of the Big 12 Tournament and both NCAA Tournament games.

The NCAA investigation may have played a factor in Alexander’s decision to declare early. He doesn’t have the look of a player who is ready for the NBA Draft, but he will garner some serious attention due to his pedigree coming out of high school and his size. He showed some flashes of promise during the season, recording 13 points and 13 rebounds in a win over Oklahoma back on January 19th.

The talent is there, without question. However, Alexander may be considered a “work in progress,” since he isn’t quite as developed as some of the other big men in the draft. He could be a steal in the draft if he slips low enough, but he could also be one of the top busts. It’s a risky situation, but could definitely pay off if a team is willing to take a chance.

– T.B.