You Remind Me Of...: Jahlil Okafor

It's always helpful for fans to have a point of reference when learning about new players that will be in Durham on a year to year basis. Often, it's helpful to compare a new recruit to a former Blue Devil. We've done just that with the help of the national recruiting team and Duke historian/author Jim Sumner.

When looking for the best formula for comparison, we decided on a three-step process:

First, we asked the national recruiting team of Evan Daniels, Brian Snow, and Josh Gershon to provide a scouting report of each of the incoming freshmen as well as some of the top Duke targets in the class of 2014.

Next, we compiled the data and then removed the names associated with each player card.

Finally, those blank player cards were presented to Mr. Sumner. We asked Jim to name the first former Blue Devil that came to mind based on the scouting report.

Here's the result…

Jahlil Okafor
Height: 6-foot-10
Weight: 260 pounds Scouting Report:

  • Big, soft hands when receiving the ball
  • Back to the basket big who seals off defenders
  • A number of post moves and very nimble footed
  • Able to finish with either hand
  • Good, not great athlete
  • Average free throw shooter
  • Needs to play with more intensity at times

Quick Description: "Okafor is the best post scorer in high school basketball. He has a variety of moves and has even developed a 18-footer. He can score over both shoulders and has great touch. Solid post defender. His length impacts things" - Brian Snow

"A true back to the basket scorer who loves to punish people in the paint. He has enormous hands and snatches every rebound. Add in a nice shooting touch down low and the desire to be mean and nasty, and he has a chance to be special and dominate down low for a long time." - Evan Daniels

"Let the comparisons fly. You'll see A-B attempts made to Tim Duncan, and though patently absurd due to Duncan's legacy within basketball history, the temptation is understandable. For now, suffice it to say that Okafor has the size and tools to achieve stardom at the highest level of the sport. Whether he's explosive enough to become a true franchise player does pose a valid question, but for college, anyway, he's about as close to a sure thing as you'll find." - Rob Harrington

Sumner Says…: Carlos Boozer (2000-2002)

Carlos Boozer was the second in a string of three straight dominant big men to play in Durham from 1998-2006, bookended by Elton Brand (1998-1999) and Shelden Williams (2003-2006). At 6-foot-9 and 280 pounds, Boozer was the biggest of the three, and likely the most pure offensive post of the group.

Before he came to Duke, Boozer dominated the state of Alaska, averaging 30 points and 12 rebounds for Juneau (Alaska) Douglas High. He was described in as a back to the basket center who combined strength and finesse with an understanding of how to establish position and hold off defenders with his large frame. Boozer was named as a McDonald's All-American, Parade All-American, as well as the Alaska State Player of the Year in 1999.

Boozer's recruitment drug into the Spring before he picked Duke over St. John's, UCLA, and others.

Over the course of his three seasons at Duke, Boozer averaged 14.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game while shooting 63 percent from the field over the course of his 101 game career. Boozer was also a surprisingly good free throw shooter, hitting 74 percent of his attempts.

Boozer's value was never more evident than during the end of his sophomore season when the sophomore broke his foot in a late season loss to Maryland which sidelined him through the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Boozer returned to action in the Regional Rounds but was mostly ineffective against UCLA and USC, scoring just three points (1-of-4 from the field) and grabbing 10 rebounds in 44 minutes of action.

Boozer was back to form for Duke's victory in the national semifinal over Maryland (19 points on 7-of-8 shooting) and then again against Arizona in the championship game (12 points and 12 rebounds in 30 minutes) as Duke took home the program's third national title.

As a senior Boozer appeared in 35 contests and scored in double figures in 33 of those games. He logged a career best 33 points (along with 10 rebounds) against Virginia on February 28th, 2002.

Much like Boozer, Okafor is known for his ability to seal off defenders and score in a number of ways around the basket. Both players developed a reputation of being able to catch any and everything that was sent their way from teammates. Once the ball was received, both players could spin either way using drop steps, jump hooks, or simply lowering their shoulder and powering toward the basket.

As his career progressed at Duke, Boozer became a much better passer out of the post. With so much talent on the roster, teams were rarely able to afford chancing double teaming Boozer in the post, but that's not been the case with Okafor to date. Teams are often known to send two and even three players into the paint to guard him, and he's become an accomplished passer.

On the boards, Boozer may have actually been the third of the trio of bigs mentioned earlier when it comes to rebounding prowess. Much like Okafor's career to date, the production on the glass at Duke was solid, but not spectacular. Similarly, neither player is considered an elite shot-blocker due neither being overly quick off the floor.

These deficiencies weren't overly limiting for Boozer in three years at Duke as the rebounding was a shared by the rest of the players on the roster (Shane Battier averaged six rebounds per game during Boozer's career, while Mike Dunleavy averaged 5.8 rebounds per game, while Dahntay Jones averaged 4.2), and Boozer's size advantage and space to operate in Duke's offense allowed him to overcome any challenges he would end up facing after he moved on to the NBA in 2002.

Similarly, wherever Okafor ends up attending college it's likely he'll immediately be considered one of the top five or six big men in the NCAA. With big men being at such a premium at the collegiate level, it's unlikely Okafor will face many opponents who will exploit any sort of athletic deficits.

On the recruiting trail, Okafor is down to eight finalists: Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Illinois, Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan State and Ohio State. He's in the process of taking official visits. He will conclude his tour of visits on October 25th with a visit to Duke along with Tyus Jones.

About Jim Sumner: Jim Sumner specializes in southern sports. He is a columnist for Go Duke: The Magazine, Inside Carolina magazine, Duke Basketball Report and College Sumner is a regular contributor to The Associated Press, the Durham Herald-Sun, the Wolfpacker, Basketball Times, ACC Sports Journal,,, Tar Heel Tipoff and Blue Devil Tipoff. He has written for The ACC Handbook, Baseball America, Duke Magazine, Basketball America, Our State, Metro Magazine, and numerous other magazines, journals, and websites.

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