Curie boys basketball coach Mike Oliver first watched Cliff Alexander play the summer after Alexander’s eighth-grade year.
Oliver noticed that Alexander was 6-6 but overweight, unskilled compared to smaller players of his age. But a handful of high schools in Chicago were salivating about him just because of his size.
“The whole West Side was after him,” Oliver said of Alexander, who by his senior season would commit to Kansas and be named the 2013-14 Sun-Times Player of the Year.
“And after his freshman year and sophomore year, everyone tried to get him to transfer. All the way up to his senior year, people were trying to get him to leave Curie.”
He didn’t. But many other players as skilled as Alexander do make the switch, highlighting the transfers and inherent recruiting that the Illinois High School Association struggles to police.
Those factors were at the heart of last month’s banishment of top-ranked Homewood-Flossmoor from the girls basketball state playoffs and the indefinite suspension of its coach, Tony Smith.