One on one with Jahlil Okafor

Over the next few months the class of 2014's best will begin to emerge and be ranked accordingly. As far as the best post player in the class goes, Illinois standout Jahlil Okafor has a strangle hold on that distinction. And the Blue Devils have jumped in with the talented big man on a full scale basis. Okafor spoke to TDD this weekend about that and more.

It looked like there was some kind of mixup with the uniforms before the game…what happened?

Jahlil Okafor: Yeah, that was just some miscommunication. We thought we were the home team and we wore our home uniforms, then we had to switch to the orange ones because we were actually the road team in the game.

How's it feel for you being regarded as one of the best here at the tournament Jahlil? Seems there are a lot of eyes on you.

It's something I really appreciate because there are a lot of talented players who are out there, to be counted among them is really great.

Going further with that, what's it like for you knowing that you and fellow Team USA teammates Tyus Jones and Theo Pinson are all here and are so highly regarded in your matchups?

That's really cool because I know those guys, we're all friends.

In talking yesterday with Tyus Jones, he mentioned how you and him are talking about playing together. Can you share what made you feel comfortable to put that out on social media that you and him are looking to play together in college?

We don't think it's any secret so we felt like putting it out there. We don't know where we want to go yet, but we do know that we want to play together, that's for sure.

How's the recruiting process going now being a local Chicago guy and Illinois having a new head coach in John Groce?

I've heard from him a couple of times and I've already started to see what kind of recruiter he is, we've spoken a little bit and it's gone real good.

I've heard he's a high energy guy. How is the relationship progressing with him since he's new to your recruitment?

Well, I've only actually talked with him once on the phone and he's been talking with me about what it'd be like for me to play in the program, it's gone real good.

I saw Coach Izzo here watching you play, and hearing that you and Jabari Parker are both being recruited by him, can you talk about what you and Jabari talk about when discussing the relationship you both have with him?

Yeah [Coach Izzo] offered me a scholarship my freshman year, the relationship has been pretty consistent since then. The relationship with them is good since they were one of the first schools to offer me and have kept up with me since then.

What's your thoughts being a big man on style of play in the different conferences who are recruiting you, do you look at that much?

I'm not really too sure about style of play, that's something I haven't looked at much, not really sure how to describe it.

You've visited Arizona in the past, what did that visit do for you in terms of your evaluation of them?

It really opened my eyes because I never really thought Arizona was a top program but now I know that they have the most pros and to see what Derrick Williams did going there without even being ranked in the Top 100 and the ending up being the 3rd pick in the draft, that's a good thing.

How about with North Carolina, what did getting to visit them do for you in looking at them?

Yeah, that visit was real good, Carolina has such a rich tradition, all the past players, I just really enjoyed my visit there.

With past players, how much do you look at their track record with big men, is that something you look at?

Yeah, that's something you look at for sure.

What was the experience like getting to visit Duke's campus Jahlil?

I went to Duke like two weeks before I went to North Carolina, that was a real good visit, got to watch them practice, and really had a great time.

What were your impressions of the practice?

Well, it wasn't a real, full practice. It was a workout they were doing with Austin Rivers and Mason Plumlee.

What was it like watching Mason Plumlee play this past season?

It was good seeing how athletic he is and how hard he works. You can see how much the hard work has paid off for him, it shows in how he plays.

Have they talked about any comparisons they see with you or what kind of role you'd have in their team?

No not really, we haven't gotten that far yet.

When coaches are making comparisons for you, is that something you really look at?

No not really, I know one that people use is I'm like Jared Sullinger, which is cool because I talk with him so often.

How much of a factor is the current roster makeup or the other bigs being recruiting around you?

Not a whole lot, really. I'm pretty confident in my game and I know that wherever I go, I'll have a role to play.

What's the evaluation being built on then, what stuff are you paying attention to?

When I feel most comfortable, that's the key thing. I am looking at how they get guys to the NBA, but it isn't necessarily about how quickly they get guys there.

Going back to Duke, how much interaction have you had with Coach K?

When I went to campus we spent a lot of time together and then he came to several of my games this past season. He went to an open gym for me back home, and he came to our EYBL games in Minnesota, so when I first talked with him, it was just straight up amazing. For him to contact me, that was huge.

Tyus Jones mentioned something similar last night to what you just shared Jahlil, how do you find it's going in communicating directly with Coach K?

It's just really great, you don't want to say the wrong thing when you're talking to him because he sets such high standards. At the same time, that's a place worth looking at, they are a great program.

What's your thoughts on what Duke does with their bigs in their offense?

People always say that their bigs only set screens, but I feel like wherever I decide to go the coach will find ways to get me the ball, so that perception doesn't concern me at all.


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