Curie’s Alexander chooses Kansas over Illinois and DePaul

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By Michael Stainbrook, Tribune reporter3:15 p.m. CST, November 15, 2013

Despite the local ties to DePaul, the appeal of up-and-coming Illinois and the under-the-radar draw from Memphis, Curie power forward Cliff Alexander announced his intention Friday to play for a powerhouse program known for its success with big men: Kansas.

Curie coach Mike Oliver said Alexander would not sign his national letter of intent Friday.

Alexander averaged 21.3 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks as a junior, when he led Curie to a Class 4A sectional semifinal before losing to Young and top-ranked center Jahlil Okafor. Okafor orally committed to play for Duke moments before Alexander’s announcement.

Alexander would have been an immediate go-to target at DePaul. The Fighting Illini, in coach John Groce’s second year, are rebounding from a rough ending to the Bruce Weber era. Adding a consensus five-star recruit to the roster would have elevated Illinois’ standing within the national landscape. Alexander also would have been a huge catch for Memphis, the lone school in the running without traditional power-conference or local ties.

Coaches from DePaul and Illinois visited Alexander twice during the week leading up to his announcement, Oliver said.

Oliver and some basketball scouting sites have said Alexander’s 240-pound frame sets him apart and makes him an ideal NBA prospect. He is projected to be picked in the first round of the 2015 draft.

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