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Center Jahlil Okafor: Another Elite Chicagoan Offered
Class of 2014 center Jahlil Okafor is often overshadowed by fellow Chicagoan Jabari Parker and even by another elite class of 2014 Chicago center in Cliff Alexander, but he’s still one of the best players in the country regardless of class. The 6’9, 270-pound big man averaged close to 12 points per game for Mac Irvin Fire (IL) in the 40-team Nike EYBL, second on his team only to Parker. He also had the league’s second best field goal percentage of 69.2% through 19 games and tallied six rebounds a game. In his sophomore season at Whitney Young High School (IL) last year, he recorded about 22 points, 12 rebounds, five blocks and four assists per contest.
As you would expect, Okafor, in his own words, has scholarship offers from “pretty much everybody.” That lists includes Duke, North Carolina, Ohio State, Michigan State, Georgetown, Louisville, Connecticut, Missouri, Wisconsin, Arizona, Kansas State and Illinois, among others. Although they weren’t considered a favorite, the local Fighting Illini suffered a blow in Okafor’s recruitment after head coach Bruce Weber was fired. Okafor previously told Duke Report that he liked Illinois’ coaching staff the best but after the coaching change his favorite coaching staffs consisted of Ohio State, Michigan State, Arizona and Duke. The rising junior also named those four programs plus North Carolina as the schools recruiting him the hardest.
As for his favorites, it’s difficult to determine since it’s still early in the process for him but it does seem like he’s very interested in Duke, Michigan State, Ohio State and North Carolina. One thing he has said is that the players around him will be the most important factor influencing his college decision and that he’d like to go to the same school as fellow class of 2014 star, point guard Tyus Jones. Jones has a very similar list of schools after him and if you’re a Duke fan, you should be happy knowing the Blue Devils have as good of a shot at Jones as anybody else. Duke is also in a good spot for Okafor but the more I think about it, the more I picture Okafor heading to the Big Ten.
Given his height and weight, it’s pretty obvious that Okafor is a huge presence inside. However, he has good mobility for his size and has excellent hands and feet. He catches anything that is thrown to him, has huge but soft hands and has great footwork for his size and age. He’s a good scorer with his back to the basket and has a variety of moves he can use whether it’s his spin move, up-and-under, basic drop step or turn-around jumper. Okafor is a capable mid-range shooter too and is a volume rebounder. However, he significantly needs to improve his free throw shooting as he shot below 55% from the charity stripe during both the EYBL and his high school season. He can also decrease the amount of times he turns the ball over and could keep improving his conditioning.