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.
Jones and Okafor to Duke, Laying Foundation for Potential NCAA Title
After months and months of speculation about their future landing spot, Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor ultimately ended up where just about everybody expected.
The dynamic duo announced for the Blue Devils at separate press conferences on Friday afternoon, choosing Duke over Kansas and Baylor. Each had also considered other schools, but had long said they would attend college together.
And they made good on their promise, becoming the rare duo to successfully pull off a “package deal.” ESPN now has Duke ranked No. 2 in their 2014 class rankings, behind Kentucky.
“I can only choose one [school] and with Duke I felt more comfortable going to play with the winningest coach in college basketball and getting the chance for me personally to help Coach K win his 1,000th career game was really the tipping point for me,” Okafor said on ESPNU.
“We felt that Duke was the right fit for ourselves and that that we would be able to succeed there,” Jones said.
Jones added of Coach K: “He’s a legend, he’s coached for many years and is arguably one of the greatest coaches of all time. He has a great basketball mind and I’ll be able to learn a tremendous amount under him.”
The 6-foot-10 Okafor out of Chicago Whitney Young is ranked No. 1 in the 2014 ESPN 100, while the 6-2 Jones out of Apple Valley (MN) is No. 4.
“The key to any team is the middle of your team, your post man and your lead guard,” longtime New York recruiting analyst Tom Konchalski told SNY.tv. “And that’s what you get. You get the best distributor in the country and the best post player.”
Konchalski also believes the dynamic duo can have a “collateral effect” on Duke freshman star Jabari Parker, projected to be a top-5 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
“If they go to Duke, I think the chances of Jabari coming back for another year to play with his former AAU teammate and friend, Jahlil Okafor, those chances increase exponentially,” he said. “And that’s a potential national championship. You have Rodney Hood and Jabari Parker. When [Parker] committed he talked about you never know, he might stay more than a year.
“And I’m not saying that he definitely will if Okafor goes there, but I think the chances increase significantly.”
Projected as the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, Okafor gives Duke a legitimate post presence for at least one year.
“If you have Rodney Hood and you have Jabari Parker and then you have an Okafor and then you have Quinn Cook and Tyus Jones and [Rasheed] Sulaimon, that’s a potential fifth national championship for Mike Krzyzewksi.”
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.