Notes: College basketball's all-time shot blocker. Okafor has a very high IQ. He graduated from college in three years with a 3.75 gpa in finance. His family is from Nigeria, but Okafor grew up in Houston, Texas. He's hired Paul Pierce's agent, Jeff Schwartz.
Upside: Okafor is physical specimen. He's strong, athletic, quick, and a very good leaper. Okafor's bread and butter is his defense. He's a big-time shot blocker and a very aggressive rebounder. In the past he's struggled some on the offensive end, but this year he's been dominant there, too. He's developed a nice 10-foot jumper and has been looking for his shot more. To top it off, he's extremely smart and a very hard worker. Most scouts consider him the most NBA-ready prospect in the draft. The comparisons to a young Alonzo Mourning don't seem that far off.
Downside: Height used to be an issue. But when you factor in his wingspan (7-foot-4) and his standing reach (9-foot-3 1/2) it's silly. He's as big as most centers in the league. His free-throw shooting is pretty bad, and his perimeter game still needs some work. He's still pretty raw offensively. The other big concern for Okafor is his health. He suffered a hairline fracture in his back in March and played through the pain most of the year. Bad backs scare the daylights out of every GM in the league. They're difficult to fix, and back problems have a tendency to reoccurr. Every GM to whom I spoke is concerned about it. Okafor and his agent, Jeff Schwartz, say it isn't a problem. The back is great," Okafor said when I asked him about it. Schwartz was more specific. "He got a clean bill of health from the doctors here (at UConn)," Schwartz told Insider. "I know teams will want talk to the doctors and see for themselves, but at the end of the day, I think this is going to be a non-issue. Emeka doesn't have a bad back. He had an injury, and it's healed now."
Insider Projection: Unless there is something seriously wrong with his back, Okafor will be either the first or second pick in this year's draft. If Orlando keeps the pick, it's tough to see them passing on him.