LIVE! from Big Cliff's announcement

LIVE! from Big Cliff's announcement


CHICAGO — A bad morning turned into an overall bad day for the Illinois basketball program when Curie five-star forward Cliff Alexander committed to Kansas, passing on the Illini, during a news conference in the auditorium of his high school Friday afternoon.

Alexander chose Bill Self and the Jayhawks over offers from the Illini, DePaul and Memphis.

Earlier in the day Quentin Snider, a point guard who had been committed to Illinois since September, decommitted and signed with Louisville. Snider, a Louisville Ballard product, had previously decommitted from the Cardinals in favor of the Illini.

Illinois does have two players signed in the 2014 class with Centennial forward Michael Finke and Memphis (Tenn.) forward Leron Black in the fold.

We’ll have more on Alexander’s decision later on HQ.

Cliff Alexander announcement — 3 p.m. (ESPNU)

Students are starting to file into the auditorium and it's getting loud in here.Cliff just showed up, too. He's wearing khaki pants and a black sweater. They're showing a highlight video of Cliff playing with USA Basketball abroad. A guy from the Phillipines was raving about Alexander's dunking ability on the video.

They also just showed the video when Cliff shattered the backboard during an AAU game in Merrilville, Ind., in the spring of 2012. At that time, it was the second backboard Alexander had shattered.

Cliff Alexander announcement — 3 p.m. (ESPNU)

It’s continuing to fill up here. No matter what happens today, I’ll remain skeptical. ESPN’s Scott Powers is reporting Alexander’s high school coach Mike Oliver said Alexander won’t sign a letter of intent today.

A Twitter person reports that DePaul billboard has been across the street for months. They’ve been recruiting Alexander longer than months, so I don’t find that to be a coincidence.

Cliff Alexander announcement — 3 p.m. (ESPNU)

There’s a group of students practicing a performance behind where Alexander will make his announcement. It’s a group of girls wearing black slacks, white dress shirts, black ties and masks. Like masquerade party masks.

There are five chairs set up at three tables.

Members of the media are beginning to assemble. There are a half dozen microphones on the table and even more cameras here.

WCIA and WICD have been spotted. The Sun-Times has a columnist here. The folks are here, too. So is WGN. Just about every outlet in the area is here.

Cheerleaders just showed up, too.

Good news: Leron Black and Michael Finke have signed their letters of intent for Illinois. Don’t have to worry about those guys.

I can hear the band practicing, too.

Big Cliff's dad is in the auditorium. He's wearing sunglasses. Curie coach Mike Oliver is here, too. 

Cliff Alexander announcement — 3 p.m. (ESPNU)

Good afternoon from Curie High School, where five-star forward Cliff Alexander is scheduled to announce his college decision today.

“Cliffmas”, as many of you are calling it, is finally here.

Been a pretty quiet day so far, huh?

As you’re well aware, the day got off on a very sour note for Illinois fans with the revelation that Quentin Snider decommitted from Illinois and signed with Louisville this morning.

I was in the car on my way up here when the news broke. I might have broken a few laws while trying to figure out what was happening with my phone.

From what I was told about Snider, he was partially nervous about leaving his hometown and his heart has always been with Louisville.

It was explained to me like this: Louisville is like Snider’s first love, first girlfriend, if you will. They broke up, she didn’t treat him so great, but then she was still around and despite not being treated so well, you end up getting back together anyway. It happens, the kid loves the hometown school and it’s always been his dream to play there. Tough break for Illinois.

The silver lining: Jaylon Tate has been really good, plus you’re getting Ahmad Starks and Aaron Cosby next year. Tracy Abrams will be a senior, too.

From there, I listened to John Groce’s teleconference to preview the Bradley game in a parking lot.

All the while, my phone has been blowing up with questions, updates and tidbits of information.

I had heard early that it was looking like Cliff would announce for Kansas. Then I was told it’s not a done deal by any means and that Illinois is still very much in the hunt. Crazy day, to say the least. We’ll know soon enough.

Found it very interesting that there was a DePaul basketball billboard on I-55 near the exit to get to Curie. The billboard features a few Blue Demons basketball players and it reads “Who’s next?”

Found it even more interesting that there’s one right across the street from the school.

Big satellite truck outside the school here. ESPN is all set up.

I had to sign like 50 security sheets to get in here today and I’m wearing a bright green visitor badge on my chest.

I’ll get back to you in a few minutes as things develop here.


Michael Kiser of WDWS is here, too. He'll be broadcasting starting at 3 p.m. and you can follow along here.


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Sid Saltfork wrote on November 15, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Evidently, he is going to be a Drama major.