Kansas finished its regular season with a road loss at Oklahoma without junior Perry Ellis, sophomore Brannen Greene or freshman Cliff Alexander. Ellis had a sprained knee, Greene was suspended and Alexander was being held out due to eligibility concerns and Jayhawks head coach Bill Self gave an update on the trio in a podcast with ESPN‘s Andy Katz.
The most concerning loss is Ellis, a first-team All-Big 12 selection who is arguably the team’s most important player. Self said they’ll take precaution when it comes to playing the junior forward.
“He will wear a brace for the rest of the season,” Self said to Katz. “If the doctors say he’s not feeling well enough, we will sit him for the tournament. All indications are he is doing well with his lateral movement.
“We will press forward and put him in position, and hopefully he’ll be 100 percent by the NCAA tournament.”
Greene, a key shooter off the bench for Kansas this season, missed the game due to suspension.
“It should be a one-game suspension as long as he did what he was supposed to do,” Self said. “Hopefully he’s been on time for class and done what’s required. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t play. We certainly could have used him. We were short-handed. We’re certainly better with him in the long run.”
So it sounds like Ellis and Greene could be back for the NCAA Tournament, which means that Kansas will nearly at full strength.
The same can’t be said for Alexander, however, as the freshman is dealing with the NCAA looking into his eligibility. Self didn’t sound optimistic that his McDonald’s All-American power forward would be back.
“I had never heard of an agent or financial adviser mentioned [with Alexander],” Self said. “That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”
Self said Alexander won’t play until the NCAA enforcement and the family meet to discuss the situation.
“We’re basically moving on and preparing as if we’re not having Cliff,” Self said. “We won’t have him if they’re not all on the same page.”
Self said he’s still optimistic Alexander will return but “the odds would be zero and no chance” if the parties don’t meet.
Things don’t appear good for Alexander’s freshman season at Kansas, and the Jayhawks might have to move on without him. They still won plenty of games against good teams this season in which Alexander had poor outings and played minimal minutes so it shouldn’t be that big of a loss. But if Alexander can return, and he plays with confidence and returns to form, he can be a bruising presence in the paint and gobble up a lot of rebounds.