Duke lands top 2014 hoops duo Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor.
Friday afternoon loomed as a boom or bust moment for Duke basketball recruiting.
As it turned out, the Blue Devils’ 2014 class has exploded, in a very good way.
Sticking to their stated plan to attend the same college together, point guard Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor picked Duke over Kansas in televised press conferences on ESPNU.
“With Duke, I felt more comfortable going to play for the winningest coach in college basketball,” Okafor said.
“We sold each other,” Jones said. “It wasn’t me pulling him and him pulling me.”
ACCSports.com recruiting analyst Brick Oettinger ranks Okafor as the No. 1 center in the Class of 2014, while he rates Jones as the second-best point guard in the class.
The Recruiting Services Consensus Index (RSCI) has Okafor as the No. 1 2014 recruit and Jones as No. 5.
High-profile “package deals” are frequently mentioned in college basketball recruiting, but almost never come to fruition. (Remember when landing Matt Jones was going to help Duke get Julius Randle?) But in this case Jones and Okafor followed up on their publicly-stated goal of attending the same school.
That desire likely helped Duke out significantly. The Blue Devils had long been considered the heavy favorite to land Jones, a 6-1 guard out of Apple Valley, Minn. But Okafor, a 6-10, 265-pound center from Chicago, was a less certain situation. Fair or not, Duke has battled a reputation on the trail as a school that caters to perimeter scorers at the expense of post players. In recent years – really since Shelden Williams – the Blue Devils have lost out in races to land big men ranging from Patrick Patterson to Greg Monroe to Mitch McGary.
But Duke started to change that narrative some last season, when big man Mason Plumlee was the focal point of the Blue Devils’ offense and went on to become a first-round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. And then there was the enticement for Okafor that he could have his buddy Jones feeding him the ball down low.
So now the Blue Devils finally get the high-profile big man they’ve been seeking. And he comes along with something Duke frequently brings in – a top-notch point guard. In one fell swoop, Duke’s 2014 class has been transformed.
Prior to 4 p.m. the Blue Devils had a commitment from, Grayson Allen, a 6-4 2014 shooting guard (a position Duke never seems to have trouble recruiting). Allen is considered a very good – but not elite – prospect. He has an RSCI ranking of No. 34. If Duke had missed on Okafor and Jones, that might have been the extent of its 2014 talent haul.
Now? Duke’s class could arguably be considered the top haul in the country – or at least right up there with UNC, Ohio State and Kentucky.
And it may get better. The Blue Devils have also been pursuing Texas swingman Justise Winslow. Winslow has also talked publicly about attending the same school as Jones and Okafor, but was not tied in to the same package deal. He took his official visit to Duke at the same time as Jones and Okafor.
Here’s what Oettinger had to say about Okafor recently. It’s worth noting that, while Oettinger likes Okafor best among the 2014 centers, he does not consider the Chicago product a game-changing talent.
“Okafor has strength and a polished low post game, yet his good but not exceptional athleticism prevents him from projecting as a potential near-super or super.”
And here’s what Brick had to say about Jones:
Jones isn’t quite a jet athletically, but he’s a skilled ball-handler and accurate perimeter shooter who plays within the team concept and makes consistently good on-court decisions.
Finally here is highlight footage of each player in action.