Scott Phillips/NBC Sports

Kentucky stops recruiting top five forward Cliff Alexander

Leave a comment

Cliff Alexander is one of the most sought-after recruits in the country.

A 6-foot-8 forward, Alexander is as explosive and powerful as anyone in the Class of 2014. When he dunks, you feel sorry for the rim. When he blocks a shot, he leaves a dent in the basketball. He can scratch his knees without bending over, which, when combined with his leaping ability, makes him an ideal target for penetrating guards to throw alley-oops too.

In simpler terms, he seems like he’d be a perfect match for Kentucky, teaming up with fellow Chicago native Tyler Ulis, who will carve himself out an excellent career in Lexington simply by getting into the lane and putting lobs near the rim.

But that won’t happen, as Alexander chopped Kentucky off of his list.

“They just stopped communicating with me,” Alexander told Scott Powers of ESPN. “It’s surprising. I haven’t talked to [Kentucky coach John Calipari] in I don’t know how long. I’m somewhat [disappointed,] but hey it’s a business. You do what you have to do.”

On the surface, this seems concerning. Kentucky stopped recruiting a top five recruit that would be a perfect fit in their front court? After they missed out on Emmanuel Mudiay, and while they seem to be trailing for Jahlil Okafor, Stanley Johnson and Tyus Jones?

Well, it’s not as big of a deal as it may seem. Kentucky’s already loaded in the front court. They should get two or three guys back from this year’s team, Karl Towns has already committed and Kentucky is still going after Trey Lyles and Myles Turner. If anything, the decision to back off Alexander could be read as Kentucky feeling good about their chances with Lyles and/or Turner.

Where they need to spend their time is recruiting wings. Johnson, Justise Winslow, Kelly Oubre, James Blackmon, Devin Booker. There’s a chance that Kentucky’s entire perimeter attack — both of the Harrisons and James Young — will be off to the NBA after this season, which means that the only back court player the Wildcats would have next season is Tyler Ulis.

Kentucky will put a class together, and it will be one strong enough to keep them in the picture as a Final Four contender in 2014-2015. They will get their guys. Missing out on Mudiay, and potentially Jones, hurt, but backing off Alexander isn’t a sign that John Calipari has lost his touch.

Akron reveals special bobble heads for LeBron, high school teammates

Ca9oydzXIAI8R1x
@ZipsMBB
Leave a comment

When it comes to discussing some of the game of basketball’s best players, specifically those who went directly from high school to the NBA, a question that’s often asked is where said player would have attended college if forced (by rule) to do so. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are among those who have been discussed in this manner, and in the case of LeBron he’s got connections to two programs within his home state of Ohio.

LeBron’s connected with the Ohio State program, which is outfitted by the Nike’s LeBron signature line, but there’s another program with an even closer connection. That would be Akron, which is led by head coach Keith Dambrot, and all he did was serve as LeBron’s high school coach at St. Vincent/St. Mary’s HS in Akron during the player’s freshman and sophomore years at the school. Also on those teams were two future Akron Zips in guard Dru Joyce and forward Romeo Travis.

Thursday the school announced that it would be honoring James, Joyce and Travis with bobble head dolls to be given out before Akron’s home games against Buffalo (February 16; Joyce’s bobble head), Bowling Green (February 26; Travis) and Ohio (March 1; James).

All three bobble head dolls are wearing Akron uniforms, which in the case of LeBron allows fans to think back and imagine what could have been. Season ticket holders guaranteed one bobble head per account (on each of the three giveaway days), with the first 750 fans in attendance to receive one as well.

NEW PODCAST: Indiana, Cal, troublesome trends and a weekend preview

California's Jabari Bird celebrates a score against Oregon in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
AP Photo/Ben Margot
Leave a comment

The gang is back together again for another episode of the NBCSports.com College Basketball Talk Podcast, with Rob Dauster hosting and Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips joining him. Today’s episode touched on big wins picked up Thursday night by California and Indiana, discussing the performances of those teams and also touching on their prospects down the line.

Also discussed were the recent performances of Iowa State, Providence and Texas A&M (which are you more worried about?), and some of the top games on this weekend’s schedule headlined by Kansas visiting Oklahoma. And if you’re a fan of seafood, you may take umbrage with some of Rob’s comments at the beginning of the podcast.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher, and there’s also a link to listen to this podcast below. Thanks for listening.