Why Jahlil Okafor Is Smart to Pair with Tyus Jones at Next Level

Rob GoldbergFeatured Columnist IVNovember 30, 2016

Apr. 3, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Varsity basketball team member Jahlil Okafor poses at Whitney M. Young Magnet High School in Chicago. Okafor, a 6 foot 10 inch junior who plays the center position, is poised to become one of the top basketball recruits for college teams in the country. Mandatory Credit: Guy Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Jahlil Okafor had the chance to play for any school in the country, but he took his decision-making process a step further and chose his point guard. This will make his entire college experience that much better.

The 6'10", 270-pound center out of Chicago was listed as the No. 1 recruit in the 2014 class by 247 Sports' composite rankings. He has been dominant in his career in the low post thanks to his elite strength, skillful moves and soft hands while receiving passes.

For a coach to simply secure a commitment from the big man would be considered a huge boost to the program. However, Duke was able to get both Okafor and Tyus Jones to commit to the school on Friday:

It is not surprising that multiple top players chose to play for the same team. Kentucky's current freshman class features some of the best prospects from around the country, some of them at the same position. However, the difference in this case is that they came as a package deal.

The two players decided months ago that they would play together in something of an unprecedented move in college basketball. Sure, there have been brothers like Andrew and Aaron Harrison that were a package deal, as well as high school teammates Mike Conley Jr. and Greg Oden, but Jones and Okafor had never played organized basketball together.

Despite this fact, you can be certain that they will perform well on the same court at Duke.

Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated provided insight about the pair, discussing the fact that they are close and talk to each other on the phone all the time. However, Okafor summed up the positives for himself by saying, "When he says something on the court, I trust him. He always puts me in a great situation, so it's easy to follow his lead."

Jones is the No. 5 recruit in the country and the No. 2 point guard behind Emmanuel Mudiay. He has a unique skill set that allows him to get into the lane and then utilize his court vision to find open teammates anywhere on the court.

Jul 18, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Team USA Midwest player Tyus Jones (5)  dribbles the ball against Team Brasil during the Nike Global Challenge at Trinity University in Washington, DC. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

As long as Jones is running the offense, Okafor will continue to be put in good position to contribute offensively.

It is important to note that this is something that is not guaranteed at the college level. Even as the top player in the country, it is relatively easy to slow down a big man by using double-teams, zones and a more compact defense than you will see in the NBA. 

However, Jones can spread the defense with his perimeter play, plus his elite passing will help give Okafor some easy finishes around the basket. This will boost the center's statistics as well as lead to more success from a team perspective.

The truth is that these two players could team with almost any three other teammates and create a winner.

That being said, the Blue Devils will have a great squad around them next season. Even if Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood declare for the NBA draft, Rasheed Sulaimon, Amile Jefferson and others will continue to make a big impact on a daily basis.

Playing for Duke will give Okafor a chance to win a national championship as well as gain a great deal of national exposure. However, it was choosing to play with Jones that will give the center the biggest boost for as long as he remains on campus.


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