DURHAM, N.C. – Duke center Jahlil Okafor was named the Associated Press Preseason Player of the Year Monday, marking the third time in the last five years a freshman has received the award. While Okafor has yet to play a game at the college level, he has already impressed teammates, coaches, fans and voters in the preseason.
Okafor made his Duke debut with a dominating performance in the Blue-White Scrimmage at Countdown to Craziness (Oct. 25). He made his first five shots from the floor and went on to register 27 points on 12-of-16 shooting to go along with eight rebounds in 24 minutes of action.
Joining Okafor on the AP's preseason team are North Carolina junior point guard Marcus Paige, Wisconsin senior forward Frank Kaminsky, Louisville junior forward Montrezl Harrell and Wichita State junior point guard Fred VanVleet.
“It’s definitely an award I’m honored to receive, especially when you consider all the other players that have won the award,” said Okafor. “But here at Duke, we’re not about preseason awards. We have a lot of team goals for the season so I am just focused on working hard each day and helping the team reach our goals. My first game is tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to getting out on the court and competing with my teammates.”
The Chicago native also received Preseason Player of the Year honors from CBSSports.com, while earning first team All-America status from nearly every major preseason outlet. Okafor was no stranger to honors and awards prior to arriving in Durham. The No. 1 overall recruit in the class of 2014 received the Morgan Wootten Award National High School Player of the Year award after averaging 24.1 points and 11.3 rebounds per game as a senior at Whitney Young. He was also tabbed National POTY by Parade and USA Today as a senior to go along with three first team all-state citations by the Chicago Tribune and Champaign News-Gazette.
In addition to a highly successful high school career, Okafor has been on three gold medal teams with USA Basketball. He was named MVP of the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship and also claimed all-tournament team honors at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship.
Harrison Barnes (2010) and Andrew Wiggins (2013) are the only other freshman to be named AP Preseason Player of the Year.
Duke plays a pair of exhibition games this week beginning with a Nov. 4 tilt against Livingstone and followed by a Nov. 8 matchup with Central Missouri before opening the regular season Nov. 14 against Presbyterian.
Okafor Named AP Preseason Player of the Year
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