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.
Beginning the 2014-15 season, Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones plan to suit up at the same college.
Which school that will be remains unclear, but a handful of big-time programs are in the mix for both 2014 stars.
“Everyone knows that we are gonna play together in college,” Okafor, a 6-foot-10 junior at Whitney Young (Chicago), wrote in his USA Today blog.
Among the schools in the mix for both players are Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, Michigan State and Ohio State.
Okafor said he’s heard from several of them recently.
“I had a really good talk with Coach (John) Calipari about a week ago,” he wrote. “Kentucky has been hitting me up a lot lately. The talk with Coach Cal was cool. He was telling me about how he felt about last season and how that went. Then he was telling me about how he gets disrespected by a lot of the other coaches in recruiting, which is actually true because I’ve heard a few things myself.
“He really explained a lot to me and I learned a lot.”
Calipari has also made a priority to watch Jones, a 6-1 point guard out of Apple Valley (MN), who is considered the best point guard in the class.
Kansas, which just landed 2013 superstar Andrew Wiggins, is also involved for the Okafor-Jones package, as is Michigan State.
“I talked to [Kansas] Coach [Bill] Self two nights ago and I talked to [Michigan State] Coach [Tom Izzo the other night too. I love talking to those guys. It’s always a cool conversation.”
As for Wiggins, Okafor, a potential one-and-done, said he will be watching to see how things turn out at Kansas next year.
“A lot of people say that Kansas doesn’t want a freshman to just come in for a year and have a huge impact then leave. I’ve never believed that, but I know Andrew will prove that it’s not true so that’s why it’s big.
“I’ll definitely be watching close to see how they handle a player of his talent level. I know Coach Self will do a good job with it.”
Meantime, many observers believe that Okafor and Jones could land at Duke. Okafor is close with incoming Duke freshman forward Jabari Parker, a fellow Chicagoan.
“Coach [Mike] K [Krzyzewski] text me on Sunday on Mother’s Day and that meant a lot to me because he was checking on me because he knows that my mother passed,” Okafor wrote. “I thought that was really cool of him.
“All of the coaches at Duke hit me up; Coach (Jeff) Capel and Coach (Steve) Wojo. Ohio State coaches (Thad) Matta and (Jeff Boals) checked on me too. That definitely meant a lot to me to have them take time out of their busy days and check on me.”
Going forward, Jones and Okafor will team up this summer on the USA U19 team that will compete in the World Championship in Prague.
Wiggins is expected to play for the Canadian team, as we reported here.
“In June I’m headed to Team USA Camp in Colorado,” Okafor wrote. “That means I’ll miss most of the skills camps in June, but I can’t wait to play in Czech Republic. Me and Tyus will team up there so, like I said, that will be a better experience.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, 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.