SLAM Fresh 50 – 2014
Cliff Alexander takes over the top spot in the senior class.
by Franklyn Calle / @FrankieC7
Having already been compared to previous No. 1 draft picks Amer’e Stoudemire and Elton Brand, Cliff Alexander has potential through the roof. But in the last few months, the 6-9 big man has taken his assertiveness to a whole new level. Putting up numbers like 30 points, 26 rebounds and 14 blocks in a game is something that Alexander makes look easy. That’s when he’s not shattering backboards or posterizing dudes while recreating the jumpman logo.
After the aforementioned triple-double performance, he traveled to Springfield (MA) for the Hoophall Classic on MLK Day, the most start-studded HS showcase of the winter, where he easily came away as the talk of the event after dropping 30 points, 12 rebounds and 5 blocks against then No. 1 ranked Montverde Academy in an enormous upset victory—oh, and he also had the crowd going crazy after dunking on the same player on consecutive possessions.
Although he’s listed as 6-9, the Chicago native reportedly possesses an incredible 7-3 wingspan. His height and bulky physique alone make him a highly sought after prospect for scouts, but when you add the kind of athleticism and explosiveness he demonstrates, it just begins to look unfair. It’s a man among boys type of situation. But he isn’t just all dunks and spin moves in the paint. He can also sink it from midrange and from the charity stripe. At Hoophall, he went a perfect 9-9 from the free-throw line.
Prior to his 30/26/14 performance and Hoophall, Alexander was named the Athlete of the Month for December by the Chicago Tribune/WGN after averaging 27 points,17 rebounds and 5 blocks per game, including posting 22 points, 20 rebounds and five blocks against nationally ranked Bishop Gorman (NV) in a victory. He ended 2013 at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament, where he took home MVP honors after posting a 37-point, 26-rebound, 5-block performance (which included 10 dunks) in one of his outings.
He’s put Curie HS on his back and has carried the team up to the No. 2 spot on USA Today‘s most recent top-25 national rankings and a 19-1 record. We wouldn’t be surprised if the future Jayhawk receives the Athlete of the Month title again for January. Needless to say, Alexander has been tearing up the competition all season long, and thus deserving of his new ranking spot. The kid is a beast and as explosive as you’ll find at his size.
Prospects that also moved up the list include Indiana-bound James Blackmon Jr, who’s averaging 36.2 points per game thus far, and UNC-bound Justin Jackson, averaging 31.4 points this season for HCYA, while BYU-commit TJ Haws makes his top-50 debut.
As has become an annual occurrence, Texas and Illinois continue to be well represented on the Fresh 50 list.
|1||Cliff Alexander||6-9||C||Curie (IL)||Kansas||No one attacks the rim stronger than he does. The explosiveness and athleticism for his size is jaw-dropping.|
|2||Emmanuel Mudiay||6-5||PG||Prime Prep (TX)||SMU||Explosive combo guard who can score from anywhere on the floor, as well as create for others and find the open man.|
|3||Jahlil Okafor||6-10||C||Whitney Young (IL)||Duke||Just too big and strong for prep level competition. Refined post player.|
|4||Tyus Jones||6-1||PG||Apple Valley (MN)||Duke||Best passer and pure point guard in the class.|
|5||Stanley Johnson||6-7||SF||Mater Dei (CA)||Arizona||Utilizes his sturdy physique to overpower opponents, and now has established a respectable perimeter game. Can play guard and forward positions.|
|6||Karl Towns Jr.||6-10||PF||St. Joseph’s (NJ)||Kentucky||Big man that can play multiple positions and hold his own out on the perimeter.|
|7||Justin Jackson||6-7||SF||HCYA (TX)||UNC||Potentially holds the best mid-range game in the class.|
|8||Kelly Oubre||6-7||SF||Findlay Prep (NV)||Kansas||Arguably the most versatile swingman in the country.|
|9||D’Angelo Russell||6-5||SG||Montverde Academy (FL)||Ohio State||Possibly the smoothest jumper in the country.|
|10||Myles Turner||6-10||C||Trinity (TX)||Undecided||Possesses a nice touch around the rim. He can step out and sink it from distance, too.|
|11||Trey Lyles||6-9||PF||Arsenal Technical (IN)||Kentucky||Skilled big whose game extends out into the perimeter.|
|12||Justise Winslow||6-6||SF||St. John’s (TX)||Duke||Explosive lefty wing who can get to the rim or sink it from distance.|
|13||Rashad Vaughn||6-6||SG||Findlay Prep (NV)||Undecided||One of the top shooters in the class.|
|14||Theo Pinson||6-6||G/F||Wesleyan Christian (NC)||UNC||Skilled wing with a knack for scoring.|
|15||Isaiah Whitehead||6-4||SG||Lincoln (NY)||Seton Hall||Sharpshooter who can also finish strong at the rim, in addition to making the extra pass.|
|16||Kevon Looney||6-9||PF||Milwaukee Hamilton (WI)||UCLA||A great rebounder that can also finish at the rim with an array of post moves.|
|17||Chris McCullough||6-10||PF||IMG Academy (FL)||Syracuse||Athletic big man that utilizes his agility to do damage in the paint.|
|18||Joel Berry||6-1||PG||Lake Highland (FL)||UNC||Great floor general that can easily score when called upon.|
|19||James Blackmon Jr.||6-3||SG||Marion (IN)||Indiana||Can light up the scoreboard in a hurry. One of the nation’s top scorers.|
|20||Devin Booker||6-5||SG||Moss Point (MS)||Kentucky||Up there with Vaughn for the top shooter in the class title.|
|21||Daniel Hamilton||6-6||SG||St. John Bosco (CA)||UConn||Can score in bunches.|
|22||Devin Robinson||6-8||SF||Christchurch School (VA)||Florida||Athletic and skilled forward that’s very versatile on the offensive end.|
|23||Goodluck Okonoboh||6-9||C||Wilbraham & Monson (MA)||UNLV||Terrific shot-blocker whose offensive game continues to expand.|
|24||Grayson Allen||6-4||SG||Providence School (FL)||Duke||Superb athleticism and explosiveness, along with a perimeter game.|
|25||Reid Travis||6-8||PF||De La Salle (MN)||Stanford||Great at drawing bodies and then finishing through contact.|
|26||Dwayne Morgan||6-7||SF/PF||St. Frances Academy (MD)||UNLV||Can hold his own at either forward position.|
|27||Jaquan Lyle||6-5||PG/SG||Huntington Prep (WV)||Undecided||The former Louisville-commit is your prototypical combo guard.|
|28||Craig Victor||6-8||PF||Findlay Prep (NV)||Arizona||A hard-worker in the paint that can step out and do damage from midrange.|
|29||Tyler Ulis||5-9||PG||Marian Catholic (IL)||Kentucky||The crafty guard keeps defenders on their toes at all times much due to his elusiveness with the ball.|
|30||Keita Bates-Diop||6-7||SF||University (IL)||Ohio State||Moves great around the rim and has expanded his range on offense.|
|31||Shaqquan Aaron||6-7||SF||Rainier Beach (WA)||Louisville||Great ball handler for his size, as well as passer and creator.|
|32||Brandone Francis||6-5||SG||Arlington Country (FL)||Florida||Another big guard that can excel at the one or two.|
|33||Malik Pope||6-8||SF/PF||Laguna Creek (CA)||San Diego State||His speed and range causes match-up headaches.|
|34||Quentin Snider||6-1||PG||Ballard (KY)||Louisville||Has good handles, court vision and overall great feel for the game.|
|35||Romelo Trimble||6-2||PG||Bishop O’Connell (VA)||Maryland||Great shooter who can also take you off the dribble.|
|36||Isaac Copeland||6-9||PF||Brewster Academy (NH)||Georgetown||Can take defenders out of the paint and knock down jumpers consistently.|
|37||Chris Chiozza||5-10||PG||White Station (TN)||Florida||His terrific ball-handing skills allow him to create opportunities for himself and others.|
|38||Kameron Chatman||6-7||SF||Columbia Christian (OR)||Michigan||Great on the glass and in finding others.|
|39||Jordan McLaughlin||6-0||PG||Etiwanda (CA)||USC||Explosive point guard that can attack the rim with the best of them.|
|40||Terry Larrier||6-8||SF||Phelps School (PA)||VCU||His athleticism and explosiveness alone can carry his offense.|
|41||Josh Perkins||6-2||PG||Huntington Prep (WV)||Gonzaga||A disciplined point guard whose value goes beyond what the stats show.|
|42||Leron Black||6-7||PF||White Station (TN)||Illinois||Terrific athlete that aside from doing work in the paint can also step out into the perimeter and create off the dribble.|
|43||Abdul-Malik Abu||6-8||PF||Kimball Union (NH)||NC State||He can sink it from midrange or put the ball on the floor and take you to the rim.|
|44||Ja’Quan Newton||6-3||PG||Neumann-Goretti (PA)||Miami||An impressive first step that gets him to the hole at will.|
|45||Trevon Bluiett||6-5||SF||Park Tudor (IN)||Xavier||Among the top pure scorers in the class. Currently averaging 38.8 points per game.|
|46||Robert Johnson||6-3||SG||Benedictine Prep (VA)||Indiana||Assertive scorer with deep range.|
|47||Dion Wiley||6-4||SG||Potomac (MD)||Maryland||Explosive off the dribble. His shot has range, too.|
|48||Jakeenan Gant||6-8||PF||Effingham County (GA)||Missouri||Great motor, athleticism and lots of upside.|
|49||TJ Haws||6-4||SG||Lone Peak (UT)||BYU||The latest Lone Peak standout with a deadly shooting stroke.|
|50||Brekkott Chapman||6-8||PF||Roy (UT)||Utah||Lefty who can do a little bit of everything.|