Several of the top 2014 college basketball recruits made their decisions on Friday afternoon, with Duke, Kansas and Arizona the big winners.
If you want to start framing the 2014-15 national championship race, begin the conversation with the Blue Devils, who scored a recruiting coup by securing commitments from Scout.com’s top-ranked prospect, center Jahlil Okafor, and the nation’s fourth-best high school senior, point guard Tyus Jones. Both players simultaneously revealed Duke hats during two nationally televised news conferences.
Center Jahlil Okafor and point guard Tyus Jones, two top-5 recruits in the 2014 high school class, committed to play college basketball at Duke as part of a package deal, they announced on ESPNU.
It was long known that the duo, who are good friends, would attend the same school, but not until Friday was their decision between Duke and Kansas made public. Baylor was also considered in the running to land them, but the whispers of Okafor and Jones going to school in Waco, Texas, faded as the early signing period grew near.
Okafor, the No. 1 player in the class according to Yahoo!, ESPN and Scout, is a 6’10, 260-pound center out of Whitney Young High School in Chicago. He played for the USA’s Under-19 team that took home gold this past summer and with tournament MVP Aaron Gordon, a 2013 class member now at Arizona, made the All-Tournament team in the international event.Of a large build, Okafor has the hands and footwork that are rare for an incoming college big man. He can score in the low post, has even shown the development of a mid-range jumper, and on defense can create missed opportunities in the paint.
Okafor is a rare high school big man who is most accustomed to playing with his back to the basket. He has good hands, consistently finishes put-backs and exhibits total control over his space down low. Okafor is a player no one enjoys defending because he embraces the physicality of the game and can “bully his defender” to displace him.
Jones hails from Apple Valley, Minn., and across the recruiting ranks is considered either the fourth- or fifth-best prospect in the class. At 6’1, 171 pounds, he is a traditional point guard who’s known for his savvy more than any of his athletic gifts. Jones would rather pass than shoot, but can score when needed. His most important asset is his ability to make the right play, especially in pick-and-roll situations.
For Duke to bring in the duo certainly helps coach Mike Krzyzewski fill a hole in the middle. The Blue Devils only have one commitment in the 2014 class, shooting guard Grayson Allen, and without Okafor appeared ready to rely upon a small roster beyond 2013-14. Overall, the commitments help bolster a team likely to lose super-freshman Jabari Parker after this season in a one-and-done scenario