Notebook: Jahlil Okafor stakes claim for No. 1 ranking
The first day of the Hoop Hall Classic didn't feature many tight games, but several players made an impact.
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Most of the focus at the Hoop Hall Classic is on the class of 2013, especially uncommitted players Andrew Wiggins and Aaron Gordon. Twenty-six of the top 100 players in the Composite Top 100 at 247 Sports will play -- it’s what makes the event a must-see every winter.
However, Jahlil Okafor made sure people didn’t forget about the future while at Springfield College’s Blake Arena. The top-10 junior thoroughly dominated against nationally-ranked Poly (Calif.), as Whitney Young (Ill.) cruised to an 85-52 win.
|Jahlil Okafor had 26 points and seven rebounds. (Adidas)|
The 6-foot-10 Okafor scored 26 points on 13-for-17 shooting, while also grabbing seven rebounds, blocking three shots and dishing out a pair of assists. Jordan Bell, one of the elite shot-blockers in the class of 2013, stood no chance of defending him.
In fact, Okafor made a really strong case for being ranked No. 1 in the junior class.
“Without equivocation, he’s the No. 1 player in the country,” Whitney Young coach Tyrone Slaughter said. “There’s not one player that can guard him one-on-one.”
“Jahlil is the probably the best player in the country,” teammate Paul White added. “Nobody can guard him.”
With five-star prospects Wiggins, Dakari Johnson and Wayne Selden all reclassifying into the class of 2013 from the junior class in the last eight months, Okafor is among the primary candidates for the top spot. Tyus Jones, Emmanuel Mudiay, Cliff Alexander, Chris McCullough, Trey Lyles and others are all viable candidates, but Okafor made his claim Saturday afternoon.
He dominated around the rim with ease, catching dumpoffs and finishing with dunks and layups. When double-teamed, he was patient and found open teammates. When asked what Okafor could improve upon, all Slaughter could come up with was rebounding out of his area and blocking shots.
“But that’s just wishful thinking,” he said.
As far as recruiting, Okafor has a slew of schools on his list, although Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State, Ohio State, Louisville and North Carolina have seemed to be putting a little more heat on him.
He said Saturday he has no visits planned in the upcoming months.
Although things seem quiet on the recruiting front for now, his dominance on Saturday certainly made noise.
Victor Law impresses in easy win
If Okafor was the star of Saturday, junior forward Victor Law was the breakout performer.
Although he gets overshadowed somewhat by elite sophomore teammate Charles Matthews, Law was fantastic on Saturday. He started out by attacking the glass in the first half, and proceeded to knock in jumpers and make plays in transition.
Law ended up finishing with 17 points and 19 rebounds, as St. Rita (Ill.) dominated Lake Clifton (Md.), 71-50.
A recruitment that has been heating up recently is only going to take another jump after his performance.
“Everyone from Harvard to Kansas has been in to see him,” head coach Gary DeCesare said.
Law holds offers from Harvard, Virginia Tech, Providence and DePaul, with interest coming from Oklahoma, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Iowa, Creighton and others.
“It’s going pretty good,” Law said. “But I’m focusing on the high school season first, and college second.”
Law is a 4.0 student, according to DeCesare, and he’s continuing to refine his game to be more dangerous from the perimeter.
“He would be a great wing forward,” DeCesare said. “He needs to improve his ball-handling, but he’s conscious of working on it every day.”
Roschon Prince still committed to USC despite O’Neill’s firing
USC has a pretty solid recruiting class lined up for the 2013-14 season, but that could be in limbo with the recent firing of head coach Kevin O’Neill.
Roschon Prince, a four-star wing from Poly (Calif.), is still committed to the Trojans -- as of Saturday.
“I’m still talking to the ADs and staff to see who the next coach might be,” Prince said.
When asked if he would think about decommitting, he left the door open.
“I really don’t know, depends on the coach,” Prince said.
For more college basketball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnCBB on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed and subscribe to our College Basketball Newsletter. You can follow Jeff Borzello on Twitter here: @jeffborzello
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