Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones commit to Duke basketball
Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones committed to the Blue Devils and head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Their announcements, which took place simultaneously at their respective high schools, were televised live on ESPNU. Okafor, who attends Whitney Young in Chicago, and Jones, who attends Apple Valley in Minnesota, had stated their intentions to be a package deal for a long time.
The other frontrunner for their services was Kansas, with Baylor as the only other school that they were both considering. Okafor was in attendance Tuesday as the Jayhawks beat the Blue Devils 94-83 in Chicago.
"Duke University," Jones said as he put on a gray Blue Devil hat. "[Coach K is] a legend. He's coached for many years and he's arguably one of the greatest of all time. He's a great basketball mind and I feel like I'll be able to learn a tremendous amount under him."
Okafor, a 6-foot-10 center, is the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2014, according to ESPN. Per his scouting report, "His ability to change ends of the floor has improved tremendously and it can even get better. After a Gold medal with USA Basketball he can make several trips and still have mobility in the process. Most nights he will get a double-double but what's impressive is how he keeps himself engaged even when his team doesn't give him the ball, that's a sign of maturity."
In April, Okafor spoke with The Chronicle about his recruitment and an in-home visit he had with Coach K.
"They are selling Duke as a program besides basketball," he said. "You know the academics and how many great people are there outside of basketball. I might be rooming with like a billionaire that will make way more money than I ever will playing basketball. Things like that.
Jones, a 6-foot-1 point guard, ranks No. 4 in the class and the top at his position. "From the neck up there's no one better in the class of 2014 with the ability to think, play and perform than Jones. He understands how to win and what it takes to win," his ESPN scouting report states.
The duo joins guard Grayson Allen in Duke's class of 2014.
Jones was asked in April about potentially playing with current Duke point guard Quinn Cook, who will be a senior next season, and if that's something the coaching staff addressed with him during recruiting visits.
"They have talked to me about it. Every college is going to have a point guard on the roster and any college is going to have players at your position. So, it’s something you look at, but like I said every college has that situation," Jones told The Chronicle. "Yeah, I would [be comfortable with playing with Cook]. He’d be a senior, a veteran, a guy that you can learn from."
More: Video and quotes from Tyus Jones over the summer.
Jones and Okafor are close friends, playing basketball for the Team USA youth teams while in high school. In AAU ball, Jones played for Howard Pulley and Okafor played for Mac Irvin Fire.
Their commitment to Duke is big news for the program after it missed out on their last two targets, forwards Kevon Looney and Reid Travis. Two weeks ago, Looney committed to UCLA in what many thought was a surprise decision. Travis opted for Stanford and former Blue Devil player and assistant Johnny Dawkins.
Watch the Cameron Crazies react to Jones and Okafor's commitments:
The next domino to fall may be wing Justise Winslow, the No. 14 player in the class of 2014. Winslow took his official visit to Duke in October alongside Jones and Okafor for the Blue Devils' exhibition game against Bowie State. Winslow has stated at points he may try and attend the same school as Jones and Okafor, but that pledge has never been as strong as Okafor and Jones' commitment to play with each other. Arizona and Florida are the other top contenders for Winslow's services. Swingman Stanley Johnson's commitment to the Wildcats Friday afternoon could put in a better position to land Winslow's services.
Today was not a complete loss for the Jayhawks, however. Top-five recruit Cliff Alexander announced his pledge to Bill Self right around the same time as Okafor and Jones made their commitments.