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Report: Jahlil Okafor says its ‘99.9’ percent chance he and Tyus Jones play together in college


The Class of 2013 is waiting to hear where the nation’s top recruit Andrew Wiggins. Once the 6-foot-7 Canadian prospect picks between Florida State, Kentucky, Kansas and North Carolina, recruiting attention will shift to the Class of 2014.

Tyus Jones (Apple Valley High/Apple Valley, Minn.) and Jahlil Okafor (Whitney Young/Chicago, Ill.) are arguably the top two juniors in the country, and have made it clear they would like to play together at the next level.

“We’re very serious about it,” Okafor told Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader on Saturday.

The 6-foot-11 center went as far to tell the Hearld-Leader it was a “99.9” percent chance they would attend the same school starting in the fall of 2014. If that were the case, Okafor would be looking at the same seven schools Jones is, who trimmed his list in March. Baylor, Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan State, Minnesota, and Ohio State are the teams that remain in contention for the 6-foot-1 point guard.

But it may not be only Jones and Okafor teaming up. According to Dave Telep of ESPN, a college coach said Jones is also making a pitch to 6-foot-8 forward Cliff Alexander (Curie High/Chicago, Ill.).

“Tyus is the ring leader,” one college coach told ESPN. “They all want to play with him.”

Telep later reported that Jones denied anything to do with recruiting Alexander, though, a top guard Justise Winslow (Saint John’s High/Houston, Texas) is also been rumored to be in the recruiting package with Jones and Okafor.

Although many factors could arise over the next year, it looks as if the Class of 2014 could see top-ranked talent team up at one school, just like Kentucky’s eight-man incoming class that includes six of Rivals’ top-20 players.

The Herald-Leader also reported that Jones and Okafor begin their co-recruitment when they take an official visit to Baylor on Aug. 31.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

No. 10 Gonzaga outlasts No. 18 UConn despite late offensive struggles

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No. 10 Gonzaga survived a furious rally from No. 18 UConn to win the third place game in the Battle 4 Atlantis, 73-70.

The Zags were up by as much as 21 points early in the second half, leading 48-27, but UConn slowly chipped away at the lead. Kyle Wiltjer led four players in double-figures with 17 points while Eric McClellan added 15 points, making a number of key plays in the second half when it looked like the Zags were in danger of giving away the lead.

As good as Gonzaga looked in the first 22 minutes of this game — and they looked really, really good — the second half exposed the concerns that many had with this group entering the season. Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr., who both shot around 40 percent from beyond the arc and started for four years, graduated, meaning that Gonzaga’s point guard situation is, more or less, Josh Perkins.

Perkins was terrific in the second half of a loss to Texas A&M on Thursday. He played 17 foul-plagued minutes against UConn. When UConn’s defense ratcheted up during the second half, Gonzaga struggled finding a way to consistently get good shots on the offensive end. Part of that was due to ineffective point guard play and part of it was a result of not really having anyone on the offensive end that can create a look on their own. As skilled as Wiltjer is, his impact can be limited when pick-and-pop actions aren’t working and he’s getting doubled in the post.

Perkins is talented, but this is essentially his first season of college basketball; he was a medical redshirt last season after breaking his jaw last November. There are going to be ups-and-downs, and that’s problematic on a team where he is essentially the only point guard on the roster.

The good news?

Gonzaga beat a good UConn team on a day when their best players struggled in crunch-time. It was McClellan and Kyle Dranginis that made the big plays down the stretch, not the big names on the Gonzaga roster.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady ‘awake, alert’ after getting stretchered off court

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Wichita State big man Anton Grady was stretchered off of the floor in the second half of a loss to Alabama after a nasty collision with Dazon Ingram.

The video can be seen above. There was nothing malicious about the way that Grady was injured. When he turned to run up the floor after missing a shot in the lane, he went face first into Ingram’s shoulder. He neck bent in an awkward directions and, after stumbling a few steps, he laid motionless on the floor.

It took 10 minutes for the training staff to strap Grady to a backboard and wheel him out of the arena.

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A Wichita State spokesman told NBCSports.com that Grady was taken to a local trauma center for evaluation and that he is “awake, alert and is answering questions appropriately”.

We will have more updates as they come available.

From a basketball perspective, the No. 20 Shockers lost their second game in a row and are now 2-3 on the season.

While for some the Shockers’ résumé is up for questioning following losses to USC and Alabama, two teams projected to finish in the bottom half of their respective leagues, the team’s health is the biggest concern.

Fred VanVleet has been dealing with a hamstring issue since the season began, and an ankle injury limited him in a loss at Tulsa earlier this month. He won’t play again until at least Dec. 5th. and who knows when he’ll be back to full strength. The same can be said for back up point guard and freshman Landry Shamet, who underwent surgery to address a stress fracture in the fifth metatarsal in his left foot. Their injuries have led to even more being asked of senior guard Ron Baker, and the loss of Grady for any significant amount of time certainly isn’t going to help matters..

These early-season losses won’t help Wichita State when it comes to the NCAA tournament, but it’s important to make note of the circumstances surrounding those defeats. To be shorthanded, with one of the absent players ranking among the nation’s best point guards, has an impact that has to be accounted for when evaluating Wichita State. The Shockers will add Conner Frankamp in mid-December, which will help them on the perimeter.

But with their rotation currently being in flux, it’s tough to make any definitive statements on what Wichita State will have to do in order to make another trip to the NCAA tournament. At this point Gregg Marshall and his staff will look for other contributors, one of whom being Markis McDuffie (14 points, seven rebounds vs. Alabama), to emerge and show themselves capable of picking up the slack.