Souhan: Duke recruits Jones, Okafor put on quite a show

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 13, 2013 - 2:54 PM

Longtime friends Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor displayed their immense skills before becoming college teammates.

Tyus Jones made it all happen, with his no-look, gotta-watch passes.

His skill brought Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski to Minnesota on a cold December night.

His friendship with Jahlil Okafor, the star center for Chicago’s Whitney Young High School, led to a game against Okafor’s team at Apple Valley High.

Jones’ development into the best high school point guard in the nation enticed ESPN2 to make Thursday’s game the first Minnesota high school basketball game televised nationally.

Jones made it all happen, everything but a victory that would have given him temporary bragging rights over his buddy, as Apple Valley lost to Young 80-70 in front of a sellout crowd.

Within that loss was the stuff of dreams, for Krzyzewski and Minnesotans who will follow Jones’ career.

Next year, Jones and Okafor, who says they are best friends, will play together at Duke. Jones, Okafor and Krzyzewski probably spent the night imagining Jones’ deft passes landing the large hands of Okafor, who scored most of his 22 points on emphatic dunks.

“Those two are going to be a treat next year,” Apple Valley coach Zach Goring said. “They’re perfect for each other. Some of those alley-oops to Jahlil were unbelievable.”

“I’ve been dreaming about those since we decided to go to college together,” Okafor said.

Jones is the classic pass-first point guard, and Okafor is the stereotypical powerful post, but both are talented enough to adapt to other roles.

Jones spent most of the first half looking for his teammates. He had four points at intermission, so Goring decided to use Jones’ little brother, eighth-grader Tre, as the point guard in the second half, allowing Jones to try to crack Young’s Syracuse-like 2-3 zone from the paint.

The result: 25 second-half points for Jones, who finished with 29 points, five rebounds and six assists.

The 6-10 Okafor produced 22 points and 15 rebounds, and even dribbled between his legs while leading a fast break.

“It was extremely fun,” Tyus Jones said. “We had a great environment and atmosphere. The fans were great tonight. So I just want to thank them. Our team played hard. It was just a fun experience for us all.”

Krzyzewski declined an interview request, saying, “This is their night.” He sat courtside and often looked as animated when Okafor fell or Jones scored as he does on the sideline at Cameron Indoor Stadium. He’ll be the beneficiary of his recruits’ friendship.

They committed to Duke simultaneously, on split screens. They planned to dine together with their families Thursday night.

“I think it’s just through basketball,” Okafor said about the friendship. “I’ve known him since the third grade, and we’re so similar off the court. He’s a pretty quiet kid. He’s my best friend.”

Befitting their relationship, the game was frequently spectacular and never contentious. The future Dukies didn’t speak much on the court, except in the language of one-upsmanship.

In the second half, the two countered like boxers.

First Jones blocked a shot, drove the length of the court, drew a foul and hit two free throws.

Okafor answered with a dunk.

Jones hit a three-pointer.

Okafor answered with a dunk.

Jones hit a three-pointer while drawing the foul.

Jones continued his surge with a couple of free throws and a long three-pointer before Young started whittling away at the clock.

“It was a fun game, and to get a chance to play on [ESPN2] is something these guys will remember forever,” Goring said. “Sure, it would have been fun to win, but they have a great team, with three Division I players.

“We’ve been spoiled with Tyus for five years now. Almost all of the people who were in the gym tonight, it’s like that almost every single game. We play in front of full houses.”

No Minnesota prospect has attracted as much attention as Jones since Minneapolis North’s Khalid El-Amin prepared himself to win an NCAA title at Connecticut, and even El-Amin wasn’t as renowned as Jones.

“I was excited for Apple Valley tonight,” Jones said. “Apple Valley has earned that.”

Then he headed toward the cold, toward dinner with his old friend and future teammate.

“High school ball is way different than AAU ball,” he said. “It’s your town, your people. So it was special.”

 

Jim Souhan can be heard weekdays at noon and Sundays from 10 to noon on 1500 ESPN. His Twitter name is @SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

 

  • related content

  • Photo gallery: Prep basketball: Whitney Young 80, Applly Valley 70

    Thursday December 12, 2013

    The Chicago school beat Apple Valley 80-70 on Thursday in a game of future Duke teammates.

  • Video: Tyus Jones loses to future teammate, gets visit from Coach K

    Friday December 13, 2013

    Apple Valley's Tyus Jones and future Duke teammate (and good friend) Jahlil Okafor put on a good show on...

  • Dec. 11 boys' basketball rankings

    Wednesday December 11, 2013

    Dec. 11 rankings provided by the Minnesota Basketball News

  • Thursday's boys' basketball roundup

    Friday December 13, 2013

    Read full story for latest details.

  • The dynamic recruiting duo — Apple Valley’s Tyus Jones and Chicago Whitney Young’s Jahlil Okafor — squared off Thursday, with Okafor’s team pulling out an 80-70 win.

  • Coach Mike Krzyzewski got a glimpse of Duke’s future by watching Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor.

  • Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski talked after the game with Apple Valley’s Tyus Jones, one of his prized recruits.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Team Irvin 7:15 PM
Team Carter
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 31 2nd Qtr 6:09
Cleveland 36
Dallas 5:00 PM
New Orleans
Indiana 5:00 PM
Orlando
LA Clippers 5:00 PM
Phoenix
Minnesota 5:00 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 6:00 PM
Toronto
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Boston 7:00 PM
Golden State
Washington 7:00 PM
Denver
Houston 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Team Toews 4:00 PM
Team Foligno
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 74 2nd Half 0:56
St Johns 66
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 31 2nd Half 17:10
Butler 34
NJIT 42 2nd Half 13:20
South Alabama 43
Northern Iowa 10 1st Half 12:31
Illinois State 8
Louisville 18 1st Half 11:03
Pittsburgh 14
Niagara 3:30 PM
Iona
UMBC 3:40 PM
Albany
Notre Dame 5:30 PM
NC State
Belmont 5:30 PM
Tennessee St
Creighton 6:00 PM
Villanova
Northwestern 6:30 PM
Maryland
Washington 7:30 PM
Utah
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
UMBC 42
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
UCF 61 FINAL
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 52 2nd Half 3:01
Xavier 52
Creighton 34 2nd Half 20:00
Marquette 35
Providence 18 2nd Half
DePaul 49
Northeastern 37 2nd Half 14:30
Elon 52
(2) Connecticut 71 2nd Half 12:18
Cincinnati 21
Oregon 42 2nd Half 12:46
Arizona 42
Bradley 19 2nd Half
Loyola-Chicago 23
NC State 29 2nd Half 20:00
(23) Syracuse 26
(7) Maryland 47 2nd Half
Indiana 29
Illinois State 23 2nd Half 15:43
Missouri State 34
Colorado 9 1st Half 14:48
Washington St 5
Tulane 12 1st Half 12:40
South Florida 13
(14) Kentucky 11 1st Half 14:34
Missouri 10
(9) Oregon State 7 1st Half 14:10
(13) Arizona State 11
Vermont 3:30 PM
UMass Lowell
Iowa State 3:30 PM
(8) Texas
Southern Ill 3:45 PM
Wichita State
(15) Duke 4:00 PM
(12) North Carolina
Miami-Florida 4:00 PM
(4) Louisville
(21) Minnesota 4:15 PM
(25) Rutgers
California 5:00 PM
UCLA
(11) Stanford 7:00 PM
USC

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How optimistic are you about the 2015 Twins?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close