Cliff Alexander to Enter 2015 NBA Draft
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self announced Tuesday that freshman Cliff Alexander will declare for the 2015 NBA Draft. Alexander joins fellow KU teammate Kelly Oubre, Jr., who announced he was going to enter the 2015 NBA Draft on April 1.
“This should come as no surprise to anybody,” Self said. “Cliff had a very interesting and educational year. He was a major contributor to our team from the beginning of the season. He worked his way into the starting lineup and has had to deal with an off-the-court issue with the NCAA that made him ineligible for the last eight games of our season. We all feel bad for Cliff for what he and our team had to go through because it was difficult for him to sit and watch his teammates play without him. During his time here, Cliff certainly got better. I loved coaching Cliff, but we support his decision 100 percent to move on and take his ability to the next level.
A 6-8 power forward from Chicago, Alexander missed the final three regular-season games, the Big 12 Championship and KU’s NCAA Tournament contests, eight games total, as a precautionary measure after the NCAA alerted KU about issues that could affect Alexander’s eligibility.
Alexander averaged 7.1 points and 5.3 rebounds for the Jayhawks in 2014-15. His 5.3 rebounds were second best on the team behind junior forward Ellis’ 6.9 boards per game. Alexander led KU with a 56.6 field goal percentage and his 37 blocked shots tied for the team-high with junior Jamari Traylor. His 1.3 blocking average ranked ninth among his Big 12 counterparts.
“I talked this over with my mom and my dad and we decided the timing was right for me to enter the NBA Draft,” Alexander said. “Kansas has been a great experience. I enjoyed being on campus. When I came in I didn’t really know much (about playing in college). I was undersized and not strong enough to bang with other guys. As the year went on, I got settled and comfortable with the system. I got stronger in the weight room and competed harder.”
Alexander recorded two double-doubles during the season with his first in KU’s 61-56 win against then-No. 20 Michigan State in the title game of the Orlando Classic, Nov. 30, at Disney’s Wide World of Sports. Named to the John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 and the Wayman Tisdale Award Watch List for the top freshman in the nation, Alexander’s second double-double came against then-No. 19 Oklahoma on ESPN Big Monday, Jan. 19, where he scored 13 points and pulled down 13 rebounds in KU’s 85-78 win.
“Playing in Allen Fieldhouse… that’s the craziest place I have ever played,” Alexander said about his fondest memory of playing at Kansas. “I’m going to miss the fans. They showed me a lot of love everywhere I went. They are a very supportive fan base. I’m going to miss my teammates a lot. I’m going to miss everybody.”
Alexander would later be named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week on Jan. 26 for his efforts against the Sooners and his 15 points and nine rebounds in KU’s 75-62 win at then-No. 17 Texas.
“Coach Self knows the game of basketball and taught me a lot on and off the court while I was here,” Alexander said. “I’ve known Jerrance (Howard) since I was a sophomore in high school. We’ve had a great relationship. When I got here that just grew, he felt like a big brother to me. All the coaches and staff were very supportive during my time here. They helped me grow and mature.”
Kansas posted a 27-9 overall record in 2014-15 and won its 11th-straight, 15th Big 12 and NCAA-leading 58th overall conference regular-season championship with a 13-5 league record. The Jayhawks had the toughest schedule in the nation and its 10 victories against Associated Press nationally-ranked teams at tip were the most for KU in a season. Kansas faced 16 ranked teams at tip which were four more than the previous high for a season set three times (1994-95, 2002-03 and 2011-12). Included were 2015 Final Four teams Kentucky and Michigan State.
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