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Kansas freshman Cliff Alexander forced into NBA draft

Baylor v Kansas

during a semifinal game of the 2015 Big 12 Basketball Tournament at Sprint Center on March 13, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Ed Zurga

Cliff Alexander entered Kansas an elite recruit, someone with definite one-and-done potential.

But he looked raw throughout his lone season with the Jayhawks, giving scouts an opportunity to focus more on his small size for a power forward (6-foot-8) than his strength and athleticism.

Sure, declaring for the NBA draft and making money would have been enticing regardless. Returning to Kansas could have really bumped his stock, though.

Unfortunately, the decision was essentially taken out of Alexander’s hands when the NCAA began investigating whether he and his family were remaining poor enough while Kansas got rich off his fixed-wage labor.

Whether you believe college or the pros better develops players for the NBA, there’s no question Alexander wouldn’t develop much at Kansas if suspended next season.

So, to the draft he goes.

Kansas release:

Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self announced Tuesday that freshman Cliff Alexander will declare for the 2015 NBA Draft. Alexander joins fellow KU teammate Kelly Oubre, Jr., who announced he was going to enter the 2015 NBA Draft on April 1.

“This should come as no surprise to anybody,” Self said. “Cliff had a very interesting and educational year. He was a major contributor to our team from the beginning of the season. He worked his way into the starting lineup and has had to deal with an off-the-court issue with the NCAA that made him ineligible for the last eight games of our season. We all feel bad for Cliff for what he and our team had to go through because it was difficult for him to sit and watch his teammates play without him. During his time here, Cliff certainly got better. I loved coaching Cliff, but we support his decision 100 percent to move on and take his ability to the next level.

Alexander is a borderline first-round pick.

The most common words used when assessing his game are “Basketball IQ” – as in, it needs to improve. He’s just 19, so it should. But there’s always concern about how much and how quickly.

There’s a reason Alexander was so highly touted coming out of high school. There’s also a reason he’s not the top-10 pick many expected.

But there’s no good reason Alexander should be forced into this choice.

Alas, he is, and NBA teams must now evaluate an intriguing but flawed prospect.