High School: Jahlil Okafor

Top recruit Okafor chooses Duke

November, 15, 2013
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Top-ranked Jahlil Okafor and fourth-ranked Tyus Jones committed simultaneously to the Blue Devils. The duo picked Duke over Kansas and explained their decision to Matt Schick.

Four schools with best shot at Okafor

October, 6, 2013
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Chicago Whitney Young center Jahlil Okafor, ESPN’s top-ranked senior, hasn’t officially cut his list to four schools, but Baylor, Duke, Kansas and Kentucky have the best chance of landing him, Okafor’s father said on Sunday.

Jahlil Okafor told Scout.com on Saturday he had narrowed his choices to Baylor, Duke, Kansas and Kentucky, but Chukwudi Okafor, Jahlil's father, said the list wasn’t official.

“We haven’t officially cut the list,” Chukwudi said in a phone interview on Sunday. “Those four schools have the best chance. Anything can still happen.”

Okafor participated in USA Basketball’s national team developmental training camp in Colorado on Saturday and Sunday. Chukwudi said he and his son would discuss his recruiting when Okafor returns to Chicago.

In late May, Okafor released a list of eight schools he was considering. The list included Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan State and Ohio State.

Okafor has said he’d like to attend the same school as Apple Valley (Minnesota) point guard Tyus Jones, who is ranked No. 4 by ESPN. Jones and Okafor have planned official visits to Duke and Kansas together later this month. They previously visited Baylor together.

Illinois on Okafor's list of final eight

May, 29, 2013
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Chicago Whitney Young High School center Jahlil Okafor, ESPN's No. 1-ranked junior, announced Wednesday a list of eight schools he's still considering in his recruitment.

Read the entire story.

BlueChipBattles: Hoops, April 25 edition

April, 25, 2013
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Allerik FreemanCourtesy of Andrew Shurtleff

With word that shooting guard Allerik Freeman has asked for his release from UCLA, the nation’s No. 65 senior prospect may soon join Andrew Wiggins as the only uncommitted ESPN 100 prospects. Also, coaches begin to put in serious face time with the nation’s top junior recruits.

Read the entire story here.

Jabari Parker ends prep career to big cheers

April, 4, 2013
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CHICAGO -- Jabari Parker threw down a baseline dunk. He dished out a few assists. He grabbed a few rebounds. He made a few steals and blocked a few shots.

On the court Wednesday, Parker was being Parker as he displayed his all-around game and showed why he’s been considered one of the premier high school players in the country for much of his career.

But when Parker and most people think back of his McDonald’s All American Game experience, what they’ll remember isn’t Parker’s West team winning 110-99 or anything he did during the actual game. It’ll be the memory of his introduction before the game at the United Center.

[+] EnlargeJabari Parker
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhWednesday's McDonald's All-American Game at the United Center was a homecoming of sorts for Chicago's Jabari Parker, who said he wanted to "represent the city of Chicago on the way."
With the lights out and the spotlight on and after every other player already on the floor, Parker was announced as being from Simeon Career Academy and Chicago. The welcoming decibels were well beyond those of anyone before him.

It was the perfect reception for the hometown Duke commit Parker, a four-time state champion and two-time Mr. Basketball who is No. 2 in the ESPN 100 ranking index.

“It was like homecoming,” Parker explained after the game. “It’s just a homecoming day for me, see everybody out there. You know we can celebrate. I know I represent all the high school players, so that’s all I wanted to do. Be there and represent the city of Chicago on the way.”

Whitney Young High School junior center and fellow Chicagoan Jahlil Okafor, the nation’s No. 1 junior, was just as moved by the fans’ love for Parker.

“Seeing the crowd embrace him as they did, he deserves it more than anybody,” Okafor said. “Seeing everybody cheer that loud, I was really happy and just put like chills down my body. It’s something I can work hard for and maybe I can experience that next year.”

It was nearly the same feeling for Ronnie Fields, a former McDonald’s All American from Chicago, who was attending his first McDonald’s game in nearly 20 years.

“I was so happy,” said Fields, who was a McDonald’s All American in 1996. “I was waiting for him to come out.”

“To see the city continue to breed these guys out, it just made me proud,” he said. “You go down the list. We got Jabari. We got Derrick Rose. We got Okafor coming. That goes back to Isiah Thomas. The list goes on and on.”

Parker was thought to be playing his final game in Chicago for the foreseeable future, but he hinted at another game, possibly meaning a Duke game in Chicago next season. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski did bring Jon Scheyer back to play before his hometown Chicago crowd, and that also could be the case for Parker, who is expected to spend just one season in college before bolting for the NBA.

Whether or not Parker will be back in Chicago next year, he left a bit of everything on the floor Wednesday. He had 10 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals, two blocks; didn’t allow anything easy to No. 1-ranked Andrew Wiggins (uncommitted; from Canada by way Huntington Prep in West Virginia); and came out on the victorious side, just as he did throughout his career.
All in all, Parker realized his hometown experience was unique at this game.

“I know I’ve been spoiled a little bit more being in Chicago and playing at the United Center,” Parker said. “This was a great experience.”

Telep: Cleaning out the notebook (Insider)

February, 1, 2013
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Dave Telep’s Friday recruiting notebook includes an introduction to one of the nation’s most impressive freshmen, a look at Indiana’s big recruiting weekend, why John Calipari’s words resonated with the nation’s No. 2 junior, Illinois putting in work on the recruiting trail and more.

Read the entire story here.
No. 2 senior Jabari Parker and No. 2 junior Jahlil Okafor, whose teams met in a highly anticipated Chicago showdown over the weekend, have different games but share many of the same intangibles that make them successful.

Read the entire story here.

When national No. 4 Chicago Whitney Young and No. 11 Chicago Simeon meet on Saturday night at 9 p.m. ET on ESPNU, it may prove to be the most intense battle of the high school basketball season, featuring nationally ranked rivals with rosters full of future college stars like No. 2 senior Jabari Parker and No. 2 junior Jahlil Okafor.

Read the entire story here.

Dave Telep updates his impressions of top players and teams in the aftermath of the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass.

Cancer Research Classic: What I learned 

January, 6, 2013
1/06/13
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WHEELING, W.Va. -- Where to begin? For a two-day event, the Cancer Research Classic smashed a ton of talent into a tight window. Between two classes, there were four top-five players on display this weekend, plus a college announcement from the nation’s No. 1 senior center.

There’s not much the CRC was missing. So let’s recap what we learned from the event.

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Roundtable: What to watch in 2013

January, 3, 2013
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Last week we paused to look back at the most memorable basketball recruiting stories of 2012. But recruiting is all about the future. So as the calendar turns to a new year, it's time to focus on the stories that will be making news in 2013.

And while there are still plenty of intriguing stories to watch in the 2013 class -- No. 1 prospect Andrew Wiggins and No. 7 Aaron Gordon among them -- much of the focus in 2013 will actually be on the 2014 class, especially top two recruits Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor.

So we asked our RecruitingNation basketball experts to get their crystal ball out and look into the future to identify what recruiting stories will be the most interesting to follow in the coming year.

Read the entire story here.

Battle of the nation's best centers 

December, 21, 2012
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Take the nation’s highest-rated center from the Class of 2013 and match him against the best from the Class of 2014 class and I’m in. No matter the place, and apparently with no concern for the time.

The matchup between Jahlil Okafor (Chicago/Whitney Young) and Dakari Johnson (New York, N.Y./Montverde Academy) at the City of Palms Classic didn't tip until 11:02 p.m. ET Thursday night. I walked out of the gym at 12:49 a.m. Friday.

In retrospect, it was all worth it.

Read the entire story.

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Okafor making push for nation's top player

December, 6, 2012
12/06/12
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CHICAGO -- UIC's home basketball court was occupied by some of the nation's best prep players from morning to night for the Chicago Elite Classic last week.

St. Vincent-St. Mary freshman Vincent King drew rave reviews. Illinois' future backcourt of Jaylon Tate and Kendrick Nunn played before their future coach John Groce. Recruits from BYU, Dayton, Minnesota, N.C. State, Ohio State, among other schools all showed off their skills.

[+] EnlargeJahlil Okafor
Scott Powers for ESPNChicago.comJahlil Okafor is the best player in Chicago while Jabari Parker recovers from injury, but some don't expect that pecking order to change.
Jabari Parker, the nation's No. 2 senior, even surprised everyone and played in his first game since fracturing his foot in July.

But when the day ended and the participants, high school and college coaches, media and fans departed the arena, there was only one player who nearly everyone was talking about -- Whitney Young junior 7-foot, 265-pound center Jahlil Okafor.

Even though Parker was nowhere near 100 percent and Andrew Wiggins (the nation's No. 1 senior) and Tyus Jones (the nation's No. 1 junior) weren't present, Okafor's performance against DeMatha (Md.) led many to believe he should be the No. 1 player not only in the state regardless of class, but also the country.

One high-major college coach who was in attendance left thinking there was no doubt Okafor is the best player in the nation after witnessing his 34-point, nine-rebound performance against N.C. State recruit BeeJay Anya, who had 11 points and five rebounds.

"I think he's the No. 1 player in the country no matter the grade," the coach said. "Just his offensive package, you don't see that from a center, especially a kid his age. Left hand, right hand, putting it on the floor, jab step, you name it, he's got it all, makes free throws. It's ridiculous."

(Read full post)

Parker, Okafor spark No. 1 debate

December, 6, 2012
12/06/12
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CHICAGO -- The pride of Simeon Career Academy surprised everyone last week with an early return to action.

No, no. Not that guy.

While Derrick Rose sprints, shoots and avoids speculation for his comeback date from knee surgery, Simeon senior forward Jabari Parker, the No. 2 recruit in the country, played in his team's season opener last week at the inaugural Chicago Elite Classic. Parker had missed nearly five months with a foot injury suffered in July while playing for Team USA's U17 team in in the FIBA championships in Lithuania.

Read the entire column.

Chicago's best to face nation's best at UIC

November, 29, 2012
11/29/12
5:29
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Illinois' best high school basketball teams have often had to travel outside of the state to face the nation's best.

On Saturday, the country's elite will come to Chicago as five of the nation's top squads will face five of Illinois' top ones in the Chicago Elite Classic at UIC. The schedule, team information and more can be found at chicagoeliteclassic.com.

Here are five reasons to be in attendance on Saturday:

(Read full post)

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