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.