Quick note: I have a bit of a longer piece planned on Perry Ellis for early next week, so we are skipping him and going to #1.
1. Cliff Alexander | Freshman | 2013-14 KURank: N/A
Cliff Alexander dominated high school basketball this year. He put up 22, 20, and 5 blocks against Stephen Zimmerman and Bishop Gorman, he had 30 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 blocks against Montverde, the #1 high school team in the country (featuring top ranked 2015 recruit Ben Simmons), and posted a 20, 14 and 4 effort against Jahlil Okafor in the Chicago Public League title game.
Alexander does need some work on his overall offensive game, but despite that he has managed to dominate his competition thus far, and I think he'll continue to do so in college. Most notably, his jumper needs some work, but he's added a bit of a jump hook and looks more and more comfortable on the block with every post catch.
Alexander is considered small for a center, and he probably is, but those concerns are assuaged a bit by a wingspan that has been measured anywhere from 7'2" to 7'3.5". Defensively, he's used that wingspan to become a better interior defender than he gets credit for, and while I don't see him as a shotblocker in the Cole Aldrich/Jeff Withey vein, I think he'll be good enough to bother opponents and force them into a lot of tough shots.
Cliff's biggest trait seems to be his rebounding. His giant frame, long wingspan, and intensity causes him to attack any missed shot with reckless abandon. He also uses that on the offensive end, finishing nearly everything around the rim with a dunk. We saw a glimpse of Alexander's potential in the win over Emporia State when he had multiple dunks, rebounds, and a blocked shot in about a one minute span.
Alexander runs the floor really well for his size, and appears to have all the tangibles. I think he'll be able to diversify his offensive game a bit now that he'll need to, but I think he'll be just fine even if he cant. The thing I'm most excited about, however, is that Cliff is an MFer, something the team sorely lacked last year. He's an imposing figure on both ends of the floor, and he's going to be scary good for the Jayhawks this year.