So that hurts.
Illini nation has been following the recruitment of Cliff Alexander for over a year now, hoping beyond hope that maybe, just maybe, he'd finally be the big fish we'd land in our orange and blue boat.
But Moby Dick got away.
During a televised announcement on Friday Cliff Alexander announced that he'd be going to Kansas. And it sucks. Not for him. I don't blame him for choosing Kansas, as it's one of the premier programs in the country and competes for a national title year after year.
If you're Cliff Alexander you're making your college decision with the NBA in mind, and Kansas just might help him get there a bit quicker.
Still, no matter his reasons for his decision, I know it hurts that he didn't choose Illinois. Especially because there had been a lot of good signs in recent weeks that he'd finally be the one we landed. But, alas, it is not to be.
Trust me when I say this, I know it sucks. I wanted Alexander in Champaign just as much as any of you did, but it's not going to happen. You have every right to be upset about it, it's natural, but I ask you not to take it out on Alexander. I don't want to see any Illini fans sending angry tweets his way. He's a kid doing what he feels is best for himself, and he doesn't owe you anything.
I hope he goes on to have a great career.
Also, let's not forget that we've still got plenty to be happy about ourselves. Yes, losing Quentin Snider to Louisville at the last minute hurts, but it's not the end of the world. Even without Snider and Cliff Alexander, John Groce has put together a nice 2014 class with a guy I feel like could end up being a superstar in Leron Black, and a kid in Michael Finke I think will be an excellent addition to this program.
Cliff or no Cliff, it's obvious that Groce and his staff have this class headed in the right direction. Plus, we've already landed D.J. Williams for the 2015 class, and maybe he'll be joined by some five-star studs before it's over.
Either way, if competing for players like Cliff Alexander and swinging for the fences is what you want Illinois to be doing -- and, hey, we were a real contender here until the very end -- then we're probably going to have more swings and misses than hits.
Not even Kentucky gets everybody it wants.