Jahlil Okafor

Assigned Reading: Learn more about Duke-bound Jahlil Okafor, the nation’s top recruit

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You’ve probably already heard the name Jahlil Okafor.

The 6-foot-10 Whitney Young Magnet High (Ill.) center is the nation’s consensus top player, and is Duke bound, staying true to his word that he would attend the same college as Apple Valley High (Minn.) point guard Tyus Jones.

Okafor will only continue to grab national attention next season when he, Jones and Saint John’s High (Texas) small forward Justise Winslow — another top 10 recruit according to Rivals — hit Durham, joining the Blue Devils. Talk of Okafor will spill over to that following summer, leading up to the 2015 NBA Draft, where he’s projected to be the top pick.

On Tuesday, Chicago Magazine posted a lengthy profile on Okafor. Terrance Noland documents the relationship he has with his father, the college recruitment which began in eighth grade. And an emotional portion, where Okafor discusses the death of his mother when he was only nine.

As Noland notes there is definitely two sides of Okafor.

There are two Jahlil Okafors. There is the one you see on the court: all power dunks (he once broke a rim during a game), spin moves, stare downs, and various other displays of domination. “He’s a fierce competitor, with really no regard for the people in the other jersey,” says his Whitney Young coach, Tyrone Slaughter. “It’s like a war to him.”

Then there is the other Jahlil, the one most fans don’t see. This is the one who intentionally keeps his booming bass voice at low volume off the court so that he won’t intimidate people. The one who would rather hole up in his room with Netflix or PlayStation than be out on the street, where he’s recognized more and more. The one who is shy around strangers but unleashes his gravelly cackle around his friends. The one who feels hurt when he’s attacked on Twitter (“I wonder if they would say negative stuff if they realized how nice I am,” he says). The one who fetched water for his AAU teammates while he was sidelined last summer with a twisted ankle. The one who tells his father he loves him every time they get off the phone.

This is a terrific read on the latest star player from Chicago, who just turned 18 two days ago. Click here to read the entire piece.

Texas lands commitment from top 100 center

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James Banks announced on Thursday that he has committed to Texas, joining Jacob Young in Shaka Smart’s first recruiting class as the head coach of the Longhorns.

Banks is an interesting prospect. A 6-foot-10 center from Georgia, Banks is a still-developing prospect that was recruited more on his potential than his immediate ability.

“James Banks emerged as a good low post prospect this spring and summer,” NBC Recruiting Analyst Scott Phillips said. “With a good set of hands, some offensive potential and a frame that can add weight, Banks is a nice upside grab for Texas.”

He’s probably a few years away from having a major impact in the Big 12, but he may not have that much time to develop. Cameron Ridley, Prince Ibeh and Conner Lamert all graduate after this season, meaning that Banks is going to have to contribute immediately when he sets foot on the Austin campus for the 2016-17 season.

Texas has three commitments in the Class of 2015. Smart convinced Kerwin Roach and Eric Davis to remain committed to the program when he took over for Rick Barnes while he landed a commitment from Tevin Mack, who pledged to Smart when he was at VCU.

Memphis guard could miss season with shoulder injury

Kedren Johnson
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Memphis just cannot catch a break.


It’s to the point where I almost feel bad for Josh Pastner.

Today, CBSSports.com reported that Kedren Johnson, a 6-foot-4 point guard that was on track towards being an all-SEC point guard at Vanderbilt, could end up missing the season due to a shoulder injury. If he can handle the pain he can avoid surgery and play with the injury, but at the very least, Johnson is going to be less than his best.

Johnson averaged 6.7 points and 2.7 assists last season for the Tigers. He sat out 2013-14 after leaving Vanderbilt and entered last season incredibly out of shape. There was hope that he would be able to make a bigger impact this season and help fill the void at the point guard spot.

This news comes on the heels of Memphis finding out that Jaylen Fisher is heading to UNLV. Who’s Jaylen Fisher? Well, he’s a point guard and top 40 recruit from Memphis that was Pastner’s No. 1 recruiting target that opted to leave the city for his college hoops instead of play for the Tigers.

That’s a bad sign, but not quite as bad as Memphis losing star center Austin Nichols — another local kid — to a transfer over the summer. Nichols transferred to Virginia.