Blessed with gigantic hands, nimble feet and an ability to glide up and down the floor with ease – even though he's near 6-foot-10 – Jahlil Okafor is going to garner a lot of attention this spring and summer on the club basketball circuit.
The NY2LAsports.com Swish N' Dish kicked off the club season for many teams and was loaded with many of the midwest's best club teams. During each game, Jahlil and his Mac Irvin Fire teammates saw large crowds as Jahlil faced constant double and triple teams.
"It's kind of fun, you can never take any games off," Jahlil said of being No. 1. "You know you're going to get everybody's best shot. It just makes each game that much more exciting."
This year on the circuit, Jahlil is focused on one part of his game to improve.
"Defense; I'm trying to be more of a defensive presence and more of a shot blocker and be more vocal," Okafor said.
Okafor is probably worried about the defensive end because on offense he is running with some high-level point guards that are making it a lot easier on him. His point guard on the Mac Irvin Fire this spring will be elite 2015 point guard Jalen Brunson. Brunson helped lead Stevenson to the Class 4A state championship game as a sophomore, where they lost to Simeon and Duke commit Jabari Parker. Jalen Brunson is the son of NBA veteran Rick Brunson.
"He's not bad, he's really good," Jahlil said of Jalen with a smile," "My first time seeing him play was last week at adidas Nations and I was very impressed. I had heard the name ‘Jalen Brunson' before but at adidas Nations I was like, ‘who is that?' and everyone was like, ‘that's Jalen Brunson," and I was like, ‘oh, that's who everyone's been talking about.' It's a lot of fun playing with him."
While Jahlil is playing with a great point guard on the grassroots circuit, he's still very focused on the much talked-about package deal that he has with Scout.com's No. 1 point guard in 2014, Tyus Jones.
"I talk to Tyus like every day. I talked to him at like 1 in the morning last night. He called me. He was mad that I didn't tell him that I had a tournament this weekend. So he called me to talk to me about that," Okafor said. "Tyus is one of my best friends, he's like a brother to me so I'd love to play with Tyus in college and that's something we're planning on doing."
Jahlil said that the recruiting process has recently slowed a bit with the end of the season happening in the last month.
"March Madness has been slow (in regards to recruiting) since they are at the end of their season so I haven't had anybody on me very hard lately," Okafor said. "I'm not focused on any school in particular but I'm pretty much hearing from all the schools and all the same people."
Duke continues to be one of the usual suspects in Jahlil's recruitment though as he continues to hear from the coaching staff.
"I'm really close with Duke and with Coach K and Coach Capel," Okafor said. "I'm close with them and then one of my best friends, Jabari Parker, is going there too."
While Jahlil mentioned that he had spoken with former Duke assistant coach and new Northwestern head coach Chris Collins in the past, he indicated to TDD that Northwestern was not in the recruiting picture.