Whitney Young’s Okafor going to Duke

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By Mike Helfgot, Special to the Tribune

Mike Krzyzewski has not had to count on his hometown as a recruiting base over the years, but he has been successful with those he’s deemed worthy of a Duke uniform.

Young center Jahlil Okafor fits the bill.

Okafor, the consensus No. 1 prospect in the nation, chose Duke on Friday afternoon before a live ESPNU audience during a press conference at Young.

As expected, Okafor will team with Apple Valley, Minn., point guard Tyus Jones at Duke.

Okafor and Jones repeatedly said they would attend college together over the past year.
“The past two and-a-half weeks, my family, his family, our inner circles, have been having conference calls, just comparing all the schools,” Okafor said. “They’re all great universities. It came down to it the academic side and Coach K. He is the most winning coach of all time. I’d love to help him get his 1,000th win.”

It is the second straight year Krzyzewski won an intense recruiting battle for Illinois’ best player, but it may be doubtful Okafor will team with two-time Mr. Basketball of Illinois Jabari Parker next year considering how well the Simeon product has played early in his Duke career.

The 6-foot-11 Okafor was a first-team All-State pick by the Tribune last season after a brilliant junior year during which he averaged 20.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.9 blocked shots while leading Young to the Public League championship.

Kansas was his other finalist.

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