After Draft Stock Plummets, Cliff Alexander Motivated to Impress | Zagsblog
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Tuesday / June 18.
  • After Draft Stock Plummets, Cliff Alexander Motivated to Impress

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    cliff-alexanderCHICAGO — There was a time, not so long ago, when Cliff Alexander was a projected lottery pick in the NBA Draft.

    As late as last July, the 6-foot-8 power forward was ranked by DraftExpress.com as the No. 2 pick in this draft behind only Duke’s Jahlil Okafor.

    By November, he had fallen to No. 10.

    By February, he was at No. 17.

    In March, after he stopped playing during his freshman year at Kansas as the NCAA investigated his mother’s ties to a financial firm specializing in pre-draft loans for athletes, he fell to No. 31.

    And now, after the most recent NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, Alexander is sitting at No. 41 to the Brooklyn Nets according to Draft Express.

    “I kind of expected it,” Alexander told SNY.tv at the combine. “My stock was going to go down, how my season was going but it don’t matter where you get picked at. It all depends on how long you stay in the NBA.”

    Alexander, who measured at 6-8 1/2 with a wingspan of 7-3 1/2 in Chicago, did not play 5-on-5 or participate in drills during the combine in his hometown, but he did meet with a slew of NBA teams.

    “I met with New York, Washington, Golden State, Chicago, San Antonio, Dallas, Memphis, Houston, Oklahoma City, Phoenix and more teams,” he said.

    During his meeting with the Knicks, who are guaranteed a top-5 pick, President Phil Jackson wasn’t present, Alexander said.

    “[They were] just really trying to get to know me, see what kind of person I was, see how I would fit in their system,” he said.

    Alexander was averaging 7.1 points and 5.3 rebounds when he stopped playing for Kansas, and ended up missing the postseason as the Jayhawks lost to in-state rival Wichita State in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

    “It was really tough me sitting back not helping my team get any wins,” he said. “I felt like I let my teammates down and I let my coaching staff down most. But it was kind of tough. My mom, she’ll come up sitting on my bed, help me boost my confidence, make sure I don’t lose my confidence.”

    “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,” Kansas coach Bill Self said in a statement after Alexander declared for the draft. “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.”

    It remains unclear how Alexander’s game might translate to the NBA.

    Some think he could be DeAndre Jordan, others are less optimistic.

    “His draft stock has slipped because of his limited upside as an undersized center,” one NBA scout told SNY.tv. “It is a shame that the NCAA ruled him ineligible at the end of his freshman year because he really needed at least one more year of college. He is D-League guy no matter where he gets drafted.”

    “Very limited skill set and understanding of how to play,” a second NBA scout said.

    As for his supposed tumble in the mock drafts, ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla said he “mocks the mock drafts” for putting Alexander so high to begin with.

    “Did he slide or was that where he was supposed to be all along?” Fraschilla asked SNY.tv on The 4 Quarters Podcast.

    “I talked to one team that had Cliff Alexander in the second round as far back as January because if you look at him at 6-8, no skills, it makes sense. But because he had a name, Cliff Alexander, high school All-American. My whole point is this, water usually seeks its  own level although there are mistakes made. Chandler Parsons, second round, Michael Redd, second round, we get that. Wesley Matthews, undrafted, we get that. Isaiah Thomas, 60th pick, we get that.

    “I think Cliff Alexander certainly didn’t help himself by not playing [in Chicago].”

    Alexander has heard all the criticism and can only look toward the future and trying to prove everyone wrong.

    “Most definitely,” he said, “I need to redeem myself.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

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