Scouting Jahlil Okafor

Evaluation of the top player in the 2014 class, Duke signee Jahlil Okafor

It's rare to find a big with the size and strength of Jahlil Okafor. It's even rarer to find one at the high school level with the skill that Okafor possesses. The Duke signee is one of the most dominant big men in the country, but he wins his battles using more than just his size to his advantage.

Okafor is more of a traditional big man, but it's obvious that he knows how to get it done on the court. At 6'11" tall and close to 275 pounds, he's already a physical mismatch for 99-percent of the players he goes against on both the high school and college level, and he knows that. He's able to use his size as well as his basketball IQ to establish deep post position and commands the ball on the low block.

Okafor does a great job of identifying his matchup once he receives the post feed. If he knows he has the advantage, he has the ability to turn over either shoulder to finish around the rim. Many times he's able to draw contact and he has the power to finish through that contact and get to the line for the and-1.

He attracts double-teams more times than not, but rather than get trapped, he does an exceptional job of finding open teammates and passing the ball out of the low post to his teammates on the perimeter. Okafor is often seen palming the ball away from the defender, and while it appears almost laughable, he uses his length and position to keep the ball away from the defender up high.

Early in his career, Okafor carried a lot of unnecessary weight on his frame that would slow him down and make him less effective in transition, however, now he's in the best shape of his career and continues to improve his body, allowing him to get involved in the fast break and establish his position early before the defense gets set. He even occasionally throws down a dunk in transition.

If Okafor continues to condition his body in preparation for the long minutes he's sure to play at Duke, he will likely be a double-double machine and could very well be the most dominant player on the floor at any given time. He's a strong rebounder because of his ability to establish position on the defensive end as well. Okafor is already a capable ball handler in certain cases, but if he can elevate his ball handling to match the rest of his game, he could be a serious threat from any spot in the half court set, which would serve him very well in the Duke offense.

It's hard to compare Okafor to any one big man, past or present. He has the physical power and assertion of Shaquille O'Neal with the post touch of Tim Duncan all in one package. And given the issues that Duke's lack of a true center caused them this past season, he should make that squad far more complete in 2014-2015.


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