Duke and Chicago high school basketball fans got a special treat Saturday night as two of the city's powerhouse programs—three-time defending state champion Simeon Career Academy and nationally ranked Whitney Young—faced off in front of a packed crowd at Chicago State Univeristy.
Simeon features Duke commit Jabari Parker, who was playing against his close friend and AAU teammate, Jahlil Okafor of Whitney Young.
The No. 2 player in the class of 2014 according to ESPN, Okafor—a skilled 6-foot-10, 270-pound center—is one of the Blue Devil coaching staff's top recruiting priorities in the junior class.
Televised on ESPNU, the game was not the most aesthetically pleasing display of basketball. Parker and Okafor finished with seven and eight points, respectively. Simeon (18-2) prevailed with a 44-41 win against Whitney Young (18-2) to maintain its spot as the king of high school basketball in the Windy City.
In stark contrast to his quiet performance on Saturday, Parker—a 6-foot-8 small forward ranked No. 2 overall in the class of 2013—registered arguably his best performance on the year last Monday with 28 points in a victory against national power Oak Hill Academy, as reported last week.
Tyus Jones—the Duke coaches' other primary focus in the class of 2014—will take an unofficial visit to Kansas Feb. 23-24, per a tweet by Jason Jordan of USA Today. Ranked as the No. 1 player in the class of 2014 according to ESPN, the do-it-all floor general is considering Duke, Ohio State, Michigan State, Kansas, Minnesota, Baylor and Kentucky.
Jones, a Minnesota native, was considering North Carolina too until recently. Last week, the Tar Heel coaching staff received a commitment from Joel Berry—ESPN's No. 3 point guard in the class of 2014. Berry's commitment is huge for a North Carolina program that has failed to recruit at a standard that it is used to over the past couple years.
Berry's commitment essentially eliminates the Tar Heels from Jones' list of potential suitors, according to his most recent USA Today blog post. Thus, North Carolina may face an uphill battle to land Okafor due to the strong sentiment that he and Jones—his good friend— will attend the same school.
Other recruiting news around the Triangle: N.C. State hosted a bevy of elite prep basketball recruits over the weekend for its 91-83 win over rival North Carolina. The guest list featured Wolfpack signee Anthony "Cat" Barber, 2014 verbal commitments, Cody and and Caleb Martin, as well as Julius Randle—a top-five player in the class of 2013, who is uncommitted.
After landing a top-flight lead guard in Berry to get some early momentum going for his 2014 recruiting class, Tar Heel head coach Roy Williams may be on the verge of securing another big-time commitment in 2014. Justin Jackson—a versatile 6-foot-7 forward and top-20 player in 2014—could be getting closer to popping for North Carolina. The Houston product, who unofficially visited in October for Late Night with Roy, is expected to visit Chapel Hill again in the coming weeks.