Kansas Jayhawks: What Happens if Cliff Alexander Comes Back


The Kansas Jayhawks could have Cliff Alexander back this season.

The freshman power forward from Chicago has missed the past two games after the Jayhawks were notified last week he may have committed an NCAA violation.

There has been no official word from the NCAA or Kansas regarding Alexander’s status, but Michael O’Brien of the Chicago Sun-Times, who is well-connected within the Chicago prep hoops scene, dropped two pretty heavy bombs to his 8,000-plus followers Wednesday regarding Alexander.

User @gavinesq, among others, wondered about a source to backup O’Brien’s claims.

To his credit, O’Brien was forthright in his reply.

If O’Brien is correct and Alexander is back, which, mind you, no one has officially reported, what does that mean for the Jayhawks?

Despite being the team’s second-leading rebounder, and recording two double-doubles this year, Alexander had played very sparingly the past three games before his suspension, tallying only two points.

Yet, he started each contest.

It’s not as if he was logging 30 minutes per game, and there was no doubt he would just slide right in to the starting lineup upon his return.

Instead there will be many questions surrounding the team if and when he returns, especially because those in his stead have performed well.

Although he was largely absent during Alexander’s first missed game, junior Jamari Traylor had 14 points and nine rebounds Tuesday in the win against West Virginia. His powerful dunk in overtime, set the tone for the victory.

Landen Lucas has not lit up the stat sheet the past two games, but he has no doubt been a huge factor in the team’s two victories.

After an efficient, five point, four rebound, zero foul effort Saturday against Texas, he scored just one point Tuesday, but grabbed six boards and made what was possibly the game-saving block at the end of regulation.

The most surprising effort though came form seldom-used junior big man, Hunter Mickelson.

In his second-best effort of the season, and by far best effort in league play, the Arkansas transfer had eight points, three steals, two rebounds, and two blocks, while altering several others.

He also showed he can pass well.

That sort of effort from the trio of reserves can’t be expected each night, but head coach Bill Self would have to take in to consideration their play if Alexander is cleared.

If so, it would be unlikely that he would jump back in to the starting lineup immediately. Even if he did, it’s anybody’s guess as to how many minutes he will play — at least based on recent history.

Most likely Alexander would come back as the first or second man off the bench, and slowly ease his way to 15 or 20 minutes of playing time, although it would be unlikely Self would start him again.

It would be a great problem for the Jayhawks to have.

Even if Alexander is only a shadow of his true potential, he is still a big body who can clog the middle, eat up fouls, and even play like the McDonald’s All-American everyone expected him to be this year.

Self has a way of dealing with players completely different than fans, the media, and who knows, maybe even his assistant coaches, expect.

One thing that is for sure though, is having Alexander is only going to make his team better down the stretch.

Even if it means he has to share the spotlight.

Next: Kansas Jayhawks: Naming the All-Bill Self KU Teams

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