Anytime the name Jordan is attached to something in the basketball world, it is only fair to expect greatness.
Recruiting fans were not disappointed Friday during the series of games at the 2014 Jordan Brand Classic in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Who will have a better collegiate career?
The three games on the schedule were the International Game, which featured some of the world’s most promising young players, the Regional Game, which starred New York’s young talent, and the National Game, which placed the country’s best high school recruits against each other in an all-star game.
Superstars such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul have suited up for the event in the past.
Now that we know the format, let’s take a look at some of the best performances during the Jordan Classic.
The East team won the National Game to the tune of 158-147 over the West team in a thrilling contest that ended up as a back-and-forth affair.
You didn’t really expect any defense at an all-star game, did you?
Jahlil Okafor led the way for the East squad and proved why he is considered the top recruit in the nation according to 247Sports' composite rankings. He is the centerpiece of Mike Krzyzewski’s absolutely loaded recruiting class that is headed to Duke next season.
ESPN U shared some of Okafor’s highlights from the game:
What immediately jumps out about those highlights was how effortlessly Okafor and fellow Duke recruit Tyus Jones seemed to play with each other. Okafor discussed his relationship with the point guard, via Brady Buck of The Chronicle:
"He’s my best friend even without basketball. He’s a point guard, pass-first, and he can score. He makes the game a lot easier."
Okafor led the way for his team with 15 points by intermission, and he ended up with 29 points and nine rebounds. What’s more, he won the game’s MVP honors, as Syracuse Basketball pointed out:
Okafor, who has 29 points and 9 rebounds, is the MVP of the Jordan game. Final score (yes, you read that right) East 158, West 147.— Syracuse Basketball (@syrbasketball) April 19, 2014
Okafor was nearly impossible to stop on the low block and impressed Jeff Borzello of CBS Sports in the process:
Prediction at four most productive college guys next year from this game: Jahlil Okafor, Cliff Alexander, Stanley Johnson, Emmanuel Mudiay.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) April 19, 2014
One of the other players who impressed Borzello was Kansas commit Cliff Alexander.
He paved the way for the West team with 23 points, 19 of which came in the first half, and was impressive even in defeat. ESPN College BBall shared one of Alexander’s ferocious dunks during the game:
Perhaps the best part about Alexander’s performance was the fact that he successfully banged around with Okafor on the post. This is an encouraging sign for Jayhawks fans looking ahead to next year, especially after big man Joel Embiid recently declared for the NBA draft.
There won’t be that many big men in the entire country who are as talented or powerful as Okafor, especially within the 2014 class.
The fact that Alexander held his own against the nation’s top recruit down low portends well for his chances to muscle up with the best players in the Big 12 as a freshman.
In the Regional Game, Team White handed Team Black a 102-99 loss, thanks largely to the efforts of Seton Hall-bound Khadeen Carrington.
Carrington absolutely stuffed the stat sheet with 18 points, seven assists and five rebounds, and he earned the game’s MVP honors in the process. His ability to control the pace of play with his ball-handling, timely passing and his willingness to crash the boards from the outside set the tempo for his squad throughout the contest.
Jordan itself recognized Carrington, along with Ja’Quan Newton, after the game:
While both were impressive, Carrington gets the nod here because his team walked away with the victory. After all, that’s what is most important, right?
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