Top-ranked recruit, Jahlil Okafor is #1 ranked player in the class of 2014. The 6-10, 270 pound Okafor, born with a NBA ready body, has all the big boys chasing after him, including Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio State, Kansas and for some reason Iowa. While there really is no true favorite at this point, the Duke Blue Devils have always been on top of the lists of those who like to predict such things.
Coach K has seen Okafor play a number of times and the two have a great relationships.
Jeff Borzello of CBS Sports writes about their conversations:
(Coach Kryzewski) Just selling Duke as a program besides basketball,” Okafor said. “The academics, and how many great people are there that don’t play basketball. Like I might be rooming with a billionaire who has way more money than I’ll ever make playing basketball. I want to meet other people, and I think Duke is the perfect place for that.”
Billionaire roommates sounds fantastic, who doesn’t love a good billionaire, but wealthy bunk mates are not the only thing on Okafor’s mind. The big man is good friends with Tyus Jones, who just so happens to be the #2 ranked player in the 2014 class. He’s also a point guard. The two have stated often that they want to play together at the next level. Thus, if you want Okafor, you better want Jones.
Obviously, “wanting” both is not a problem. Without looking back throughout college basketball history, I’m not sure there has ever been a coach that hasn’t wanted both the #1 and #2 players in a class. The issue teams will have and the big issue Duke will have is, playing time.
For Okafor, playing time is not an issue. Jabari Parker is expected to be a one-and-done. Josh Hairston will be gone too, so as of now, Duke’s only true big men will be Marshall Plumlee and Amile Jefferson. Something tells me Okafor could find a starting spot in Duke’s front court.
The issue is with Jones. Assuming everything goes as planned, Duke’s Quinn Cook will be a senior in 2014, with two years of starting experience already under him. Do you really think Coach K is going to bench Cook for a freshman? Of course Cook could have a fantastic junior year and leave school early. I certainly expect Rasheed Sulaimon to leave after next year, but Cook? I think that’s a very optimistic outlook. Cook did some good things last year, but there were also plenty of times he didn’t look like an NBA point guard. Unless he suddenly discovers quickness and a first step he has yet to show so far, I just don’t see how he leaves early.
If that’s the case, do you see Tyus Jones going to a school where he’ll have to come off the bench? Yeah, me neither.
Until I’m told otherwise, there is really only one big-time school who could pull it off and it’s the same school that’s been pulling it off for three straight years now, the Kentucky Wildcats. Assuming things go as plan, John Calipari will lose 5-7 players to the 2014 NBA draft. If so, he’ll have plenty of space for both Okafor and Jones and many others.
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