Boys Basketball

Orr's Tyquone Greer, Young's Jahlil Okafor primed for rematch

Whitney Young Jahlil Okafor is fouled by Orr 's Tyquone Greer

Whitney Young Jahlil Okafor is fouled by Orr's #0 Tyquone Greer during the second half of their Chicago Public League semifinal game on Wednesdaym February 13, 2013. (Nuccio DiNuzzo / Chicago Tribune / February 13, 2013)

Tyquone Greer always has looked the part.

Long and lean, bouncy and quick, smooth jumper, finishes with authority.

The potential was unmistakable, but for three seasons, every time I saw Orr play, Greer left me wanting more. Until Sunday.

The 6-foot-6 senior put it all together in a Public League quarterfinal against Uplift, scoring 33 points on 13-of-17 shooting — several were dunks — and grabbing 12 rebounds in No. 5 Orr's 77-63 victory over Uplift.

Greer's emergence and Young forward Paul White's groin injury might be enough to forecast an Orr victory over the No. 3 Dolphins in Wednesday night's semifinals at Chicago State.

Curie and Hyde Park will meet in the other semifinal at Chicago State, while De La Salle will host Fenwick and St. Joseph will host Mount Carmel in the Catholic League semifinals Wednesday night.

All due respect, the game of the night should be Young-Orr.

While the Young trio of White, a Georgetown recruit, Duke-bound center Jahlil Okafor and St. Louis-bound guard Miles Reynolds is probably the state's best, if you were on the playground, you might be more inclined to grab Orr's Greer, Marlon Jones and Louis Adams Jr., for your squad.

All three are big, athletic and skilled, and while they're not as disciplined or productive as their Young counterparts, they have beat-anyone-on-a-given-night ability.

Factor in White's injury — he had 18 points, eight rebounds and two blocks before fouling out (with four fouls?) in Young's 69-58 win at Orr on Jan. 15 — and the predictable unpredictability of the Public League playoffs, and there's plenty of reason to think Orr can win the rematch.

Okafor is the reason it won't happen.

A bold prediction it is not, but between Cliff Alexander's emergence as a freak of nature and Young's frequent out-of-state trips, Okafor almost seems like a forgotten man.

He has noticed all the attention Alexander has deservedly received, and while he's probably too smart and diplomatic to admit it, he wants to be Mr. Basketball. Not as much as he wants to be city and state champion, but the individual accolades are important too.

You don't get to be the No. 1-ranked player in the country, as Okafor is — or No. 1 at anything, for that matter — unless being the best is important to you.

As decorated as Okafor's career has been, I still don't think people realize how good he is. (Full disclosure: I also used to say that about Michael Jordan in his prime.)

With all due respect to Jabari Parker and Alexander, I think Okafor is going to be the best NBA player of the three.

As dangerous as he is with his back to the basket — no high school player I've ever seen is close — he's also become a good face-up threat.

He can even handle the ball and shoot the 3, though opponents would be wise to let him do so if it means getting him out of the paint.

We probably won't see another big like Okafor or Alexander for a long time, which makes this year's Mr. Basketball race so intriguing.

Based on what I've seen with my own eyes this season, I have to give the edge to Alexander. But the most important games haven't been played yet.

Greer delivered the best performance of his career and earned another shot at Young. I suspect Okafor will do something similar Wednesday night.

Let's go with 35 points, 19 rebounds, six blocks and a 71-66 Young victory.

chi-boys-basketball-blog-cps-playoffs-blog-0219-pr-20140218
Advertisement

PHOTO GALLERIES

TOP VIDEO

CONNECT WITH US


2013 YEAR IN REVIEW
Look for this special section in your
Baltimore Sun newspaper on Dec. 29, 2013.
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Google Plus
  • RSS Feeds
  • Mobile Alerts and Apps