Chicago, Illinois- Media day for the 2014 McDonald’s All American Game, my interview with Jahlil Okafor
You have played with Cliff Alexander and against Cliff this year; what kind of player is he and how do you think he will do at the college level?
Okafor: “I am sure he will be fine. Cliff’s an animal on the court, and he is a freak athlete and he will be ready for whatever comes at him. He is such a hard worker, if you look at where he was freshman year to where he is now, you can see the improvement. I think when he gets to Lawrence with coach Self and all those great assistants and including the trainer he will be fine.”
There has been a lot of talk here about the possibility of the one and done, do you think that question is a little premature to ask you guys when you haven’t played a college basketball game yet?
Okafor: “Yeah I definitely think its premature for me. I mean, I’m still in high school right now and when this game is over, I have to get back to class and I still have to graduate and I have a long way to go.”
Is there one NBA player you like to watch?
Okafor: “Not just one player, there are a lot of players that I love to watch. I love to watch Tim Duncan, he has always been one of those guys that I have looked up too. I loved watching film of Hakeem Olajuwon, and I am a big fan of Shaquille O’Neal and DeMarcus Cousins is also another guy I enjoy watching.”
When you look at film of those players what are you looking for?
Okafor: “For Hakeem Olajuwon, footwork and for Shaquille O’Neal how dominant he was. He really was a man in his own world, it was just amazing watching how dominant he was.”
You’re kind of young to remember the glory years of the Bulls, but what do you remember about being in the United Center and what’s it like to be able to play here?
Okafor: “It’s a surreal feeling, I can’t wait. I have been to a lot of Bulls games and I have been to a couple McDonald’s All American Games, but I never have actually been able to play at the United Center, so I am looking forward to it.”
What’s it like to follow Jabari’s (Parker) legacy of being named player of the year?
Okafor: “It’s crazy and its great to see. Growing up with Jabari, its been a lot of fun watching him play at Duke and the entire city of Chicago is happy for him. We are all supporting him and whatever he decides, whether or not he decides to stay for another year, hes’ got the support of Chicago and myself.”
Have you recruited him to stay at all?
Okafor: “I am in contact with him but I haven’t asked him to stay or leave, you know it’s whatever he wants to do”
End of Interview
Okafor has great height and strength, making him a force in the low post. He uses his athleticism to outmatch opponents, with his footwork that allows him to gain positioning and easily grab rebounds on both sides of the floor. He’s a proven defender who can alter opponents’ shots while keeping them out of the lane. Okafor was named the 2014 Morgan Wootten Player of the Year, becoming the second straight Chicago-area player to win the award after Jabari Parker won in 2013. He is one of four McDonald’s All Americans planning to attend Duke in the Fall.
Jahlil Okafor – #22
Height: 7-0 Weight: 270
Position: Center Whitney Young Magnet High School
Hometown: Chicago, IL College: Duke
PPG: 25 RPG: 14 BPG: 3