Tag: Jahlil Okafor

Wisconsin v Duke

Jahlil Okafor reflects on his one season at Duke

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Jahlil Okafor won a national championship, was a first-team All-American and in June could become the top overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. Not bad for someone who was graduating high school this time last year.

Duke relied on freshmen this past season, with three in the starting lineup and another one, Grayson Allen, providing major contributions during the team’s NCAA Tournament run.

In the video above, Okafor discusses his lone season in Durham, his relationship with Coach K and the team’s chemistry, which helped a team with only eight scholarship players cut down the nets in Indianapolis.

Duke commit Luke Kennard responds to Tyus Jones’ departure

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NEW YORK – On Wednesday morning, Tyus Jones, the Final Four Most Outstanding Player, followed in the footsteps of teammates Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow, becoming the third Duke freshman to enter his name into this year’s NBA draft.

In light of the news of Jones’ decision, lone Jordan Brand Classic Duke commit Luke Kennard, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Franklin, Ohio, was repeatedly asked to address the state of the post-champion Blue Devils, whose key components have been stripped down and shipped to the NBA.

Kennard, who made waves earlier this season by passing LeBron James on Ohio’s all-time scoring list, acknowledged that, prior to the season, he assumed Okafor would likely be NBA-bound regardless of the season’s result. He also stated Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski explained, when it came to Jones and Winslow’s respective futures, the determining factor would be their late-season performances.

Even with the idea of all three breakout freshman jumping to the NBA implanted in the back of his mind, Kennard made it clear it was still a pill he had to choke down.

“It kind of stinks that they’re leaving, they’re great players,” Kennard said. “I played with Justise and Tyus on the USA Team, U-18, this past summer. It’s going to be tough but we’re ready to come in and just play good and prove [ourselves].”

The departure of Jones leaves the Blue Devils without a point guard to their name, just a season after playing with two — Jones and senior Quinn Cook — in their starting lineup. With the tarp officially being torn off the gaping hole, Krzyzewski is trying to convince either, or both, of 2016 targets Derryck Thornton and Jamal Murray, to reclassify and join Duke a year early.

However, if those plans end up fizzling, Kennard may be the Blue Devils’ fall-back to run the offense next season. Kennard, who played some point in AAU, as well as high school, told SNY.tv that assistant coach Jon Scheyer reached out to him and told him to, “keep working on that ball-handling,” because they may need it sooner rather than later.

If anyone knows about converted point guards, it’s Scheyer. After playing off the ball his first three years at Duke, Scheyer moved to the point in the midst of his senior season and led the Blue Devils to their fourth national title.

Kennard also admitted that, even though his sales pitch may not be as polished as Kryzyewski’s, he’s been doing some recruiting of his own. And while his efforts to lure Caleb Swanigan to Durham proved futile, Kennard said him and fellow Duke commit — as well as future roommate — Chase Jeter have been “going hard” at Brandon Ingram about joining them next season.

Ingram, ranked by Rivals as the No. 19 overall player in the 2015 class, would be a tremendous signing for Duke, but, as a small forward, he would not be the answer to their point guard woes.

While the final recruiting picture remains blurry, one thing is for sure: whether it’s from the two, off the bench, or as the starting point guard, Duke will need some major contributions from Kennard, along with the rest of their incoming class.

Duke’s Jahlil Okafor officially enters 2015 NBA Draft

Wisconsin v Duke

In a move that comes as a surprise to no one, Duke freshman big man Jahlil Okafor announced Thursday afternoon that he will forego his final three years of eligibility and enter the 2015 NBA Draft.

“As early as I can remember, I’ve fantasized and dreamed of the day that I could play professional basketball,” Okafor said in the release. “I recall at the age of six, promising my mom and dad that when I made it to the NBA I would buy them both different colored trucks. They would laugh with me in support and encouraged me to dream big and work hard. With that being said and now at the age of 19, my dream is still alive!

“My freshman year has been an amazing experience to say the least. It exceeded my expectations! I love Cameron and Duke University,” Okafor continued. “I can’t thank my coaches, teammates and family enough for making this year so special and helping me grow on and off the court. With Coach K’s and my family’s blessing I will be fulfilling my life-long dream and proudly entering my name into the NBA draft.”

Okafor’s lone season in Durham was a highly productive one, as he helped lead the Blue Devils to their fifth national title while winning ACC Freshman and Player of the Year honors. The only debate regarding Okafor when it comes to the NBA is whether he or Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns will be the top pick in late-June’s draft.

As for how it impacts Duke, this was a scenario all involved expected before the season began. Amile Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee will both be seniors next season, and Rice transfer Sean Obi will be eligible after sitting out the 2014-15 campaign. Duke also adds five-star big man Chase Jeter, who committed last August.

There are still two important decisions to be made for Duke, with point guard Tyus Jones and forward Justise Winslow yet to announce whether they’ll follow Okafor to the NBA or return to campus for another season.