As the NBA draft nears, USA TODAY High School Sports will look back at the high school careers and draft prospects for some of the top players. Here is today’s installment on Duke center Jahlil Okafor.
High school: Whitney Young (Chicago)
ALL-USA history: Named 2014 American Family Insurance ALL-USA Boys Basketball Player of the Year after receiving 2013 first-team honors. In his senior season, averaged 24.1 points per game and 11.3 rebounds en route to a 28-5 record and 4A state title. Named MVP of 2014 McDonald’s All-American Game.
Height, weight: 6-11, 270 pounds
By the numbers: Scored 17.3 points per contest while pulling in 8.5 rebounds per game. Led Duke to the 2015 National Championship and finished second in voting for John R. Wooden Award to Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky.
Draft positives: Okafor is certainly the top inside scorer in this draft class. He has incredible size and length, and he has refined his post moves to near perfection in his one year under Coach K. Okafor is a smart enough player to avoid double teams and find teammates when he’s in trouble. He has a nice touch around the rim, and he can rebound very well when he stays focused and determined.
Draft negatives: Okafor is not the explosive athlete that other top five picks usually are. He doesn’t have extreme jumping ability or quickness. Another weakness of his game is his poor free throw shooting. That will have to improve unless he wants to turn into a DeAndre Jordan. It will be interesting to see how Okafor’s lack of athleticism hurts him in the NBA, but his unique inside scoring skills will carry him to the top of the draft class.
Projection: Top 3
Draft analysis by DraftSite.com, an affiliate of USA TODAY Sports Digital Properties