Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Chuck Okafor on Duke in 2014-15: ‘National championship or bust’
By JASON MORROWSpecial to ZAGSBLOG FORT MYERS, Fla. – Chuck Okafor says Duke should have one goal and one goal only next season.
“First of all, we know they have a talented group going to Duke next year. Their model should be national championship or bust,” Jahlil Okafor’s father told SNY.tv exclusively Monday night.
“With the legend of Coach K and the kids that he has there now and the ones he’s bringing in, I see nothing but a national championship.”
He made the comments after Jahlil Okafor went for 22 points and 23 rebounds as Chicago Whitney Young held off a Grayson Allen-led Providence Christian squad, 63-55, in the third-place game of the City of Palms Classic.
With the No. 1- ranked recruiting class in 2014 that includes Okafor, Allen, Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow, Duke figures to be the preseason No. 1 in 2014.
Okafor is now 2-0 this season against his future teammates, having beaten Jones and Apple Valley (MN) earlier this month on ESPN.
Duke fans can only fantasize about how good Duke might be if Jabari Parker returns for his sophomore season.
That would seem unlikely with Parker looming as a potential No. 1 pick, but he did tell SNY.tv he could envision playing with Okafor next season at Duke.
“I’m not sure what he’s thinking,” Okafor said of Parker. “I know he loves being around his teammates and coaches, and you know education is really important to him…but he’s just going to do what’s best for him, and I’m going to support whatever decision he has.”
Okafor is projected by DraftExpress.com as the No. 1 pick in 2015, meaning it’s possible Duke could have back-to-back No. 1 picks.
Now if Parker did come out after this season at Duke, Okafor does have an opinion on whether or not he would be the first pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
“I’m a little biased, you know…but I would say so,” Okafor said when asked if Parker should go No. 1 in June. “I might be a little biased but I think people who don’t know [Jabari] personally would say the same thing.”
As for Monday’s game, Okafor’s 23 rebounds are third all-time at the City of Palms, behind only Rashanti Harris (Columbus New Hope-25, 2007) and Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love (Lake Oswego-27, 05), according to the Naples News.
“I got involved early and tried to focus on defense,” Okafor said of the keys to the game. “[Stopping] Grayson driving to the rim, rebounding [too].”
While going 2-1 in the City of Palms, Okafor averaged 17 points, 15 rebounds while swatting away two shots per game. He said the keys moving forward are defense and getting in better shape for the college game.
“Being more dominant on the defensive end, and being in optimum shape, the easier it makes it on me playing hard,” Okafor said.
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.