Three of the top 10 big men in the recruiting Class of 2014 — Kansas University targets Cliff Alexander and Myles Turner, plus Kentucky commit Karl Towns — competed at the Under Armour Summer Jam last week in Milwaukee.
Alexander, a 6-foot-8, 240-pound senior from Chicago Curie High who is ranked No. 4 nationally by Rivals.com, led Mac Irvin Fire to a 59-36 victory over No. 6-rated Turner’s Texas Select team, 59-36. Turner is a 6-11, 225-pound senior from Trinity High in Euless, Texas.
Alexander’s Mac Irvin Fire also defeated No. 9-rated Towns’ Sports U squad, 75-67. Towns is a 6-10, 225-pound senior from St. Joseph’s High in Metuchen, N.J.
Alexander scored 10 points with eight rebounds and two blocks in the victory over Turner’s team. Turner countered with nine points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.
“Defensively, Alexander powerfully blocks shots like a volleyball spike both on the ball and away from the ball. His powerful athletic ability is a thing of beauty,” wrote Reggie Rankin of ESPN.com. “Turner’s consistent motor, energy and effort allow him to grab rebounds in and out of his area. And his shot-blocking is simply sensational because his length, athletic ability and timing are special. He is also alert away from the ball and can start a fast break because his blocked shots are almost like outlet passes,” Rankin added. “Alexander gets it done with strength, power and improved offensive skill, while Turner does it with length and skill. Both have great motors and don’t take any possessions off.”
Chicagoan Alexander, who has said he has developed a great relationship with KU assistant coach Jerrance Howard, scored 19 points, with 13 rebounds and three blocks in the win over Kentucky commit Towns’ team. Towns had 14 points, six boards and two blocks.
“Alexander played strong with his grown-man strength and did everything with great power and intensity, while Towns took advantage of his tremendous size and made plays with the ball like a perimeter player. Both players have holes in their games to fill but their talent, production and determination to be special players is very evident,” Rankin wrote.
Alexander has a list of 11: Kansas, Florida, Michigan State, Kentucky, Louisville, Illinois, DePaul, Indiana, Memphis, Baylor and Arizona. Turner lists KU, Arizona, Arkansas, Baylor, Connecticut, Duke, Georgetown, Indiana, Kansas State, Kentucky, Louisville, Marquette, Miami (FL), North Carolina, N.C. State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, SMU, Stanford, Texas, Texas A&M, UT-Arlington, UCLA and UNLV.
Junior impresses: Antonio Blakeney, a 6-2 junior shooting guard from Oak Ridge High in Orlando, Fla., was scouted by KU’s coaches at the Best of the South tourney in Suwanee, Ga. The No. 53-rated player in the Class of 2015 by Rivals.com is also considering Florida, Clemson, Louisville, Texas and Vanderbilt.
“The attraction to Blakeney is that he scores. He drains it from deep, is beginning to score off the drive and he’s always been a good shooter inside the arc. This is a simple game: Prove you can get buckets and they offer you big-time scholarships,” wrote ESPN.com’s Dave Telep.
Summer league: Twins Markieff and Marcus Morris had identical shooting stats in the Phoenix Suns’ 103-98 NBA Summer League quarterfinal playoff victory over Toronto on Saturday in Las Vegas.
Former KU small forward Marcus hit eight of 11 shots en route to 23 points, while power forward Markieff went for 16 points, courtesy of his own 8-of-11 marksmanship.
Marcus hit three of four threes and four of six free throws with six rebounds in 19 minutes. Markieff grabbed five boards in 24 minutes.
Former KU forward Darnell Jackson scored 12 points off 4-of-8 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds while playing 23 minutes in the NBA Development League’s 85-75 quarterfinal loss to Charlotte.
Pelicans shop for centers: The New Orleans Pelicans are not acting like a team that is counting on KU center Jeff Withey contributing much his rookie season. The Pelicans, who have Anthony Davis on the roster, last week signed center Greg Stiemsma to a one year, $2.7 million contract. Now there are reports they are after oft-injured free-agent big man Greg Oden.
“I think he has the ability to make plays for us on the defensive end like nobody else that we have,’’ Pelicans coach Monty Williams said of Withey to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “His length and instincts to block shots can help us out, but he’s going have to get stronger. I think he can shoot the ball a little better than what people give him credit. He can’t shoot it like Jason Smith or Ryan Anderson, but his ability to step to the free-throw line and knock down a shot was pretty eye-opening for us because he looked comfortable (in summer league).”
“He can protect the rim and can run,’’ Pelicans summer league coach Bryan Gates told the Times-Picayune. “The game is obviously fast for him right now, but defensively he’s really trying.”
Happy wedding day: Former KU center Cole Aldrich and fellow KU graduate Britt Claflin were married in the Promenade Ballroom of the Saint Paul Hotel on Saturday in St. Paul, Minn. KU coach Bill Self and several of Aldrich’s former teammates attended.