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.
NBA Scout Says Comparing Jahlil Okafor to Connie Hawkins is ‘Insane’
In advance of Wednesday’s tilt between No. 2 Wisconsin and No. 4 Duke in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan compared Duke big man Jahlil Okafor to the legendary Connie Hawkins.
To be fair to Ryan, he seemed to mostly be comparing the size of their hands.
“You see him grab that one ball against Stanford or somebody?” Ryan asked reporters. “I thought it was Connie Hawkins out there. For the young people here, he had really big hands.”
Ryan then explained to the younger reporters that Hawkins “was a guy,” lest they think Hawkins was a woman.
“I haven’t seen him dance, but I bet he can dance,” Ryan said of Okafor, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. “He’s got good feet. That baseline move he has, he’s pretty good that way. You can put names on guys, McDonald’s All-American Player of the Year, Freshman Player Of The Year, but he backs it up, just like the guy before him.”
Many have compared Okafor to Tim Duncan, as we wrote here.
One NBA scout who professed great respect for Ryan told SNY.tv the Hawkins comparison was “insane.”
“I think Bo Ryan is a tremendous coach, but to compare someone who can’t jump off the ground to a high-flyer like Connie Hawkins is insane,” the scout said.
“The kid at Duke is like Al Jefferson at Charlotte. All of his moves are below the basket. He’s an old school, highly-skilled post player. That’s what he is. Connie Hawkins, Julius Irving, Michael Jordan, they use to call those guys sky-walkers.
“Okafor is Earth-bound. He’s very talented, and he’s great to watch and he’s put in all kinds of time and he’s a terrific offensive player but flying through the air is not what he does. That’s what Connie Hawkins did. That’s what he did.”
Here’s Connie Hawkins playing Paul Simon in one-on-one on ‘SNL’ in 1975. Funny stuff.
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.