[UPDATE: Alexander makes his decision]
The recruiting saga of Cliff Alexander is finally winding down on Friday as the Curie 6-foot-8 power forward announces his college decision today around 3 p.m. with an announcement special on ESPNU that includes fellow Chicago-native Jahlil Okafor.
The recruitment of Alexander has been very public -- and full of speculation -- thanks in-part to his active Twitter account (@humblekid11). It always seems Alexander is either cutting down his list of prospective schools, or retweeting the fanbases of the schools recruiting him on his active Twitter active.
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Four schools enter the day as finalists for Alexander as local schools DePaul and Illinois will battle with Kansas and Memphis for the services of the likely one-and-done power forward.
All four programs have received official visits from Alexander, and Cliff has been to DePaul, Illinois and Kansas for unofficial visits on separate occasions as well.
Memphis is believed to have little-to-no chance at Alexander while DePaul has received minimal buzz for Alexander during the week leading up to the announcement.
DePaul had Alexander for his first official visit to a college campus in late August and Cliff is attracted to the idea of playing in his hometown with the Chicago Public League talent of Billy Garrett Jr., Mychael Henry and Rashaun Stimage, but the Blue Demons haven't produced many wins in recent years and haven't had a lot of NBA talent, either.
The Illini were believed to be the leaders for Alexander as recently as early this week, but the latest chatter around Chicago puts Cliff likely in a Jayhawks uniform for next season.
Alexander visited Lawrence again this weekend for an unofficial visit and has been to Kansas three times since June. Part of the reason is Alexander's girlfriend plays for the Kansas women's program, but Alexander also enjoys the campus and has a good relationship with head coach Bill Self and lead recruiter and former Illinois assistant Jerrance Howard.
Illinois has done a tremendous job closing the gap with Kansas, the perceived former heavy favorite, by working the "local legend" angle to Alexander if he stays home and plays for the in-state school. DePaul has also worked this angle with Alexander, but Illinois head coach John Groce has more recent NCAA Tournament success and is more likely to make a deep run with a player of Alexander's caliber.
[RELATED -- National Signing Day news and notes -- Wednesday]
Regarded as a consensus Top 5 player in the 2014 national class, Alexander is a major candidate for Mr. Basketball in Illinois and should also be a McDonald's All-American this season.
Curie and Alexander come into the season as CSNChicago.com's No. 4 preseason team in the Chicagoland area and will look to build on last year's 19-8 record as they'll be one of the favorites for a potential city or state championship.