This week Whitney Young (Ill.) center Jahlil Okafor made his second official visit after spending a weekend at Baylor at the end of August. The top senior in the nation was at Kentucky along with several other highly-touted prospects in the Class of 2014 and 2015 on Monday night.
Okafor was one of more than 19,000 fans inside Rupp Arena for the UK Alumni Charity Game, which brought back the likes of John Wall, Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Following his short stay in Lexington, Okafor’s father told Steve Jones of the Courier-Journal, that his son enjoyed his time in Big Blue Nation.
“It was a great visit, and we had a good time,” Chukwudi Okafor told Jones on Tuesday. “We got to see the facilities, got to meet all the coaching staff, talked to some of the players. We got to see the alumni game. It was a great experience, and we took a lot of information away.”
Other UK 2014 targets such as Moss Point High (Miss.) shooting guard Devin Booker and Marian Catholic (Ill.) point guard Tyler Ulis were both in Lexington for Monday’s game along with Okafor. On Friday, Ulis committed to Kentucky, providing Coach Cal with a floor general who will likely stay longer than his usual one-and-done point guards. Two weeks ago in a phone interview with the Courier-Journal, the newest UK commit believed that Okafor’s potential package deal with Apple Valley High (Minn.) point guard will happen.
“I think him and Tyus have a really good bond, and they’re probably going to go to the same college,” Ulis told Jones. “It would be good to go to school with Jahlil, but I think him and Tyus are going to go to the same school.”
Of course, Ulis could be predicting a different outcome now that he’ll be enrolling at Kentucky next year. According to Okafor’s father, these two are good friends as well.
Okafor has three more official visits lined up at Arizona, Duke and Kansas. The five-star center will be in Lawrence on Oct. 18 and Durham on Oct. 25, accompanied by Tyus Jones on both those trips.
Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.
Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.
“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”
While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.
Thursday afternoon marked the first time since Friday that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino commented on the controversy that has taken his program by storm. Speaking with Terry Meiners of 840 WHAS in Louisville, Pitino discussed the escort scandal, what could have possibly led former staffer Andre McGee down the path he’s alleged to have taken in Katina Powell’s book and his future at Louisville.
The interview began with Meiners asking Pitino if it changed his thinking as to whether or not he needed to resign, which (as one would expect) Pitino shot down. Also discussed was the statement released by school president Dr. James Ramsey, which expressed support for athletic director Tom Jurich but did not mention Pitino at all.
“Well I can’t answer that, Terry,” Pitino said when asked why he wasn’t mentioned in the statement. “Twenty-six years ago Kentucky brought me in to make the program compliant to NCAA rules. (Then-Kentucky president) Dr. (David) Roselle and (then Kentucky athletic director) C.M. Newton thought I was the guy to come in and change around the images, change around the culture and add a lot of discipline to the program. And I did that.
“And then I came here to the University of Louisville, and if someone was five seconds late or not early consequences would be paid from a disciplinary standpoint,” Pitino continued. “This is obviously not a person being late, this is not about a person (not) working hard. This is about things that are very disgusting, things that turn my stomach, things that keep me up without sleeping.
“But unfortunately, I had no knowledge of any of this and don’t believe in it. It’s sickening to me, the whole thing. But I’m thinking of my 13 players, I’m thinking of our program, and I’m sorry that Dr. Ramsey did not think enough to mention me but that’s something I cannot control.”
Below is audio of the full interview, which ran just over 17 minutes in length.