Posted: 4:55 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013
This time last year, it appeared that the Kentucky Wildcats were in really good position with Chicago (IL) Curie center Cliff Alexander. The talented big man ranked comfortably inside five-star status, and John Calipari and his coaching staff had kept a close eye on both Alexander and Jahlil Okafor whenever they were scouting the Chicago area. Alexander received an offer, along with multiple coaches' visits, last fall. He was also one of the few underclassmen to attend Big Blue Madness as an unofficial visit.
Fast forward a year, and it seems almost incredulous to say that Kentucky now sits better with Okafor, who is at least planning an official visit. As of today, Alexander won't take one of his five officials to Lexington. Instead, Alexander told Steve Jones of the Courier-Journal last month that he plans on taking officials to check out the Louisville Cardinals, Kansas Jayhawks, Memphis Tigers and Arizona Wildcats.
Kentucky still makes Alexander's semi-finalists list, along with the Michigan St. Spartans. Those two programs were considered co-favorites last year, yet neither program will receive an official visit. In the Jones article, Alexander clarified that he wants to use his official visits to see schools that he or his parents have not yet visited, intimating that he is already very familiar with both programs.
Alexander also lists the Indiana Hoosiers, Illinois Fighting Illini, DePaul Blue Demons, and Baylor Bears. Alexander had tweeted that he planned to take an official visit to DePaul this week, but that tweet has apparently been deleted.
A recent post by ESPN's Jeff Goodman "handicapped" the race of Alexander's signature. Goodman believes that Kansas now leads, a sentiment echoed by 247 Sports' Crystal Ball predictions. Meanwhile, Kentucky, per Goodman, has slid all the way to (gasp!) fourth place.
That seems unfathomable, given that Alexander has had a huge summer, rising up nearly every recruiting board. In scouring for explanations, it's been posited that Calipari feels comfortable with the depth going into the 2014-15 season. The Wildcats already have an incoming 7' commit in Karl Towns, Jr., and could possibly return one or more of Willie Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson, and Marcus Lee. It's also possible that Calipari likes where he stands with the recruitment of Okafor and/or Myles Turner, a big man from Texas that does not yet have a Kentucky offer, but received strong interest this past summer.
Or maybe Calipari and Alexander have simply mutually parted ways. That said, don't pour dirt on the grave just yet. Alexander will play two games in Kentucky this season, as his high school team will take part in the Marshall County Hoopfest and the inaugural McCracken County Hoopfest. It's possible Alexander could swing by for an unofficial visit on one of those trips, or at another point in his recruitment.
Kentucky could also turn up the heat in Alexander's recruitment this fall. Or maybe Alexander truly does feel comfortable enough with everything he knows about the program. But for now, this recruitment really does feel like it's on the backburner.