UK Recruiting

UK recruiting: Top '14 prospects Okafor, Jones want to play for same college team

Jahlil Okafor of Whitney Young High School in Chicago. Basketball prospect for Class of 2014 (Photo by USA Basketball)
Jahlil Okafor of Whitney Young High School in Chicago. Basketball prospect for Class of 2014 (Photo by USA Basketball)

The top basketball prospect in the class of 2014 started trimming his list of schools Wednesday, and Kentucky made the first cut.

Chicago big man Jahlil Okafor, who has dozens of scholarship offers, said he has narrowed his choices to Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Illinois, Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan State and Ohio State.

Major programs that have recruited the 6-foot-11 center but didn't make the group of finalists included Louisville, North Carolina and Florida.

Okafor's list closely mirrors that of his good friend Tyus Jones, who is considered by some analysts to be the No. 1 point guard in the class of 2014.

Jones and Okafor first met as opponents in a third-grade AAU game and later became friends as members of USA Basketball developmental teams that traveled to Lithuania and Mexico.

"You're in a different country, it brings your team together," Jones said. "Me and him just really bonded overseas."

Jones — a native of the Minneapolis area — and Okafor have grown closer in recent years and both prospects have been open about their desire to play for the same college team.

Six of the eight schools on Okafor's list are also being considered by Jones: UK, Duke, Michigan State, Ohio State, Kansas and Baylor.

Jones is also considering Minnesota.

The duo will travel together to Baylor on Aug. 31 for their first official visit.

Scout.com ranks Okafor and Jones as the No. 1 and 2 players in the class, respectively, so commitments from both prospects would go down as one of the best package deals in recent memory.

Okafor praised Jones as a "great passer" and "great leader" during an interview with the Herald-Leader last month.

Jones called Okafor "the best player in the country" in a separate interview the next day.

"As everybody knows, he's an unbelievable talent," Jones said. "He's a great big man and, for myself, it's always good playing with a great big man. ... And I think he'd love to play with a good point guard."

The college coaches recruiting the pair are well aware of their friendship.

And they usually get a reminder when they make the trip to Minnesota or Chicago.

"Every time he has an in-home visit, he'll tell me who's over," Okafor told the Herald-Leader. "And after, he always tells me how it went. I'll text him too. Like, 'Hey, Coach K's over right now and the visit's going well.' Stuff like that."

Elite recruits often talk about "package deals" only to end up at different schools, but Okafor and Jones have been adamant about their intention to team up at the next level.

In that same interview last month, Okafor said there was "99.9" percent chance he and Jones would be college teammates.

"We're very serious about it," he said. "It's something we've been talking about since my freshman year. It's something we think is going to happen."

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