Okafor Impressed After Trip To OSU

The Ohio State coaching staff has already made Jahlil Okafor one of its top priorities for the 2014 class and that was communicated thoroughly to the big man prospect on his recent visit to Columbus.

If Ohio State's coaching staff didn't do a thorough job communicating to Jahlil Okafor that he is one of their top priorities for the 2014 class over the phone, they certain made up for it during the prospect's visit.

Okafor, rated by Scout.com as the No. 2 overall prospect in the class of 2014, made the visit to Columbus with his father, Chuck, over the weekend of Oct. 1 to get his first real look at Ohio State.

It was during that visit where head coach Thad Matta reiterated how much the Buckeyes are hoping to land the big man's services in 2014.

"They communicated (how important Jahlil is to them) and that's the best way to do it and show it," Chuck said. "Like I told them it is not about how hard you come, it should be a natural feel. It is going to feel natural and of course you want to be around a good group of kids. That class is going to be a big class and it is going to be big for the university. We took a lot away from the visit."

Despite his youth, Jahlil has already received a multitude of interest from elite programs so Ohio State's enthusiasm for the center isn't unfounded. The prospect out of Chicago Whitney Young already has garnered offers from top programs such as Arizona, Illinois and Arkansas along with one from the Buckeyes.

Jahlil took a trip to Arizona the weekend of Sept. 17 – his first ever unofficial visit - and Chuck explained was just one of many opportunities for his son to continue to gain information and knowledge about his impending college decision.

For the Ohio State visit, Chuck said his son has a little better grasp of the recruiting process and he became more familiar with a coaching staff that has been recruiting him from the beginning.

"My main goal was to sit down and get to know the coaches and I did get a good feel from Coach Matta, Coach (Jeff) Boals, and Coach (Dave) Dickerson," Chuck said. "That was my main objective, to see how they were as people, as coaches, and see what Coach Matta's basketball philosophy is. That was my mission and my mission was accomplished."

"It is seeing how coaches are, seeing if they are the same in person as they are from away, listening to what they have to say as far as giving them an opportunity," he continued. "We met the whole staff, the trainer and everything was very helpful. We had a lot of in-depth conversations as far as what they expect, what they want and that Jahlil is a number one priority for them."

A distant cousin of New Orleans Hornets center Emeka Okafor, Jahlil isn't foreign to getting attention early in his career. Jahlil was given an offer by DePaul when he was only in eighth grade. The interest, of course, is still continuing to grow.

Still a novice in terms of how the recruiting process works, Jhalil got a full tour of the campus and Ohio State's basketball facilities. After the trip, both Jahlil and Chuck were blown away by the resources the program has to offer.

"The trip went great," Chuck said. "The overall the campus was magnificent, we enjoyed the coaching staff, and they have great players and good boys. It was a great trip, very informative.

"The campus itself is just huge and the basketball stuff is just marvelous," he continued. "They have everything you could possibly want and then he explained to us that everything is going to be renovated by the time he would come down there."

A former high school teammate and friend Sam Thompson is a freshman on this year's Ohio State team and the two had an opportunity to spend time with one another during the visit. Thompson will likely be someone for Jahlil to turn to as he continues to progress in his recruiting process.

"Sam is a good buddy of his and that will never change and that will be good for him as a resource that he can go to after this year and talk to Sam and ask him how his first year was," Chuck said. "Sam is such a great kid and he'll provide him with all the information he needs."

Having yet to play a game in his junior season, Jhalil remains focused on progressing as a basketball player while focusing on supporting his high school team.

Though Ohio State likely made a lasting impact on Jahlil's recruitment, Chuck explained that it is far too early in his son's recruitment to start sorting out favorites.

For now, Chuck said Jahlil will continue to do the things that have made him one of the most coveted prospects in his class.

"Basically, it is going to remain neutral," Chuck said. "He liked the school, we both enjoyed the visit, but no matter how politically correct this might sound, he has no idea. This was only his second visit and it helps him as far as a measuring stick.

"We know it is a great school, it has a great campus, and has a great history," he continued. "We are both college basketball fanatics, so we know all about the history. But right now it is early and he has no idea what the wants to do."

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