Jahlil Okafor had been linked to Duke for months, but the Young center never threw fuel on the fire.
With the same understated grace that’s defined both his game and approach to recruiting, Okafor announced his intention to attend Duke yesterday before a live ESPNU audience.
Joining Okafor, the consensus No. 1 player in the nation, in the announcement was point guard Tyus Jones of Apple Valley, Minn. The duo made good on their pledge to attend college together.
"The past two-and-a-half weeks, my family, his family, our inner circles, have been having conference calls, just comparing all the schools," he said. "They're all great universities. It came down to it the academic side and Coach K. He is the most winning coach of all time. I'd love to help him get his 1,000th win."
Mike Krzyzewski has not had to count on his hometown as a recruiting base over the years, but he has been successful with those he’s deemed worthy of Duke.
It is the second straight year Krzyzewski won an intense recruiting battle for Illinois’ best player, but it may be doubtful Okafor will team with good friend Jabari Parker next year considering how well the Simeon product has played early in his Duke career.
The 6-foot-11 Okafor had a brilliant junior season, averaging 20.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.9 blocked shots while leading Young to the Public League championship.
Kansas and Baylor were his other finalists, but he opted against the hat-on-the-podium game for his announcement.
"All three are such great institutions and they all had outstanding programs," Okafor said. "If possible, I would cut myself into three different parts and sent myself to each school."
The contrived drama actually delivered a touching moment.
After the broadcast, Okafor addressed the Young students who packed the gym for the event. He choked up as he thanked his father and late mother.
"My mom is not here today," he said. "She passed away when I as nine. I truly believe every day she has been my wings for me. I want to give a special thank you to my mom, who I know is watching me right now."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun