Seven Sweet Scoops: Okafor, Jones, Alexander and Johnson Commit in Decision Day 2013…Posted by Sean Moran on November 15th, 2013
Seven Sweet Scoops is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you seven notes from the high-stakes world of college basketball recruiting. We also encourage you to check out his contributions at The Intentional Foul, dedicated to recruiting coverage and analysis. You can also follow Sean at his Twitter account @Seanmohoops for up-to-date news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. The Decision Is In: Okafor and Jones Are Off to Duke
In the Champions Classic, Kansas got the better of Duke; today the Blue Devils are back on top. The package deal announcement came in this afternoon as five-star center Jahlil Okafor and five-star point guard Tyus Jones committed to Duke over Kansas and Baylor this afternoon on ESPNU. The decision bumps Duke up to the No.1 spot in the recruiting rankings and automatically turns the Blue Devils into a title contender next season. The two have long discussed playing together and formed a strong bond through their time as Team USA friends as well as through AAU and camp travel. Okafor is the No. 1 player in the class of 2014 and laid claim to the top spot this past winter when he took over the title from Jones, who is now ranked as the No.4 player overall. Okafor stands at 6’10” and will provide a strong post presence for the Blue Devils, which they are currently lacking. With his size and touch he is almost unguardable in the post and will create a need for constant double teams. Jones stands 6’1” and has been touted as the best true point guard in the land for a few years now. He is a wizard with the ball and has range from the NBA three point line. Every team wants a strong point guard and post presence and Duke just landed both, so in turn they will once again be in contention for a national title in 2014-15. This marks the second year in a row that Coach K has signed the top player from Chicago, with last year’s recruit current freshman sensation Jabari Parker.
2. Big Cliff Off to Kansas
While Kansas lost out on Okafor and Jones, it did land five-star center Cliff Alexander, who played his cards close to the vest throughout the recruitment process and chose the Jayhawks over in-state school, Illinois. The Chicago native is currently ranked as the No. 3 center in the class of 2014 and No. 5 player overall. Other schools in the mix were DePaul and Memphis but the decision ultimately came down to Kansas and Illinois. John Groce was pitching Alexander on being the hometown hero that stayed in the Land of Lincoln, but the lure of playing for the Jayhawks was just too much. Alexander has ties to Kansas assistant coach Jerrance Howard, who had recruited Alexander as part of Bruce Weber’s staff for a while. His girlfriend is also a freshman at Kansas and on the women’s basketball team. At Kansas, Alexander will be able to operate in the high-low offense that Self runs and with his ever-expanding offensive game he will be able to score down low on power moves and also show off his improved outside shot. Alexander will join five-star small forward Kelly Oubre (#6 overall, #1 SF) in the class of 2014 in Lawrence. Over the past few years, Alexander has lived in Okafor’s shadow despite playing the Duke recruit to a draw the past two years. While Okafor decided to head to the east coast, Alexander will make a name for himself in Lawrence.
3. Arizona Brings in Another Five-Star Recruit From California
After initially saying he planned on waiting until the spring to make a college decision, five-star small forward Stanley Johnson reversed course and committed to the Arizona Wildcats on ESPNU Friday afternoon as well. Johnson is the No. 2 small forward in the class of 2014 and the No. 7 player overall. He chose the Wildcats over USC, Kentucky, Florida and Oregon although the latter two schools did not receive official visits. While the decision helps the Wildcats immensely, it is also a blow to their Pac-12 counterpart in USC. First year head coach Andy Enfield was looking to land his first five-star recruit and had Johnson on campus last weekend for an official visit. Johnson put on one of the most dominant displays of basketball over the summer in averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds per game for the Oakland Soldiers AAU team. This same AAU program has also recently sent freshman Aaron Gordon, sophomore Brandon Ashley and junior Nick Johnson to Arizona. The commitment gives Arizona another five-star recruit in next year’s class in addition to power forward Craig Victor (#17 overall, #4 PF) along with four-star point guard Jackson Parker-Cartwright (#50 overall, #12 PG).
4. Kentucky Falls From the Top
With Okafor and Jones announcing that they will both attend Duke next year, the Blue Devils took over the No.1 spot in the 2014 recruiting rankings from Kentucky. The top spot is a title that John Calipari has held every year as the Wildcats’ head coach beginning in 2009 when he brought in John Wall, Demarcus Cousins, and Eric Bledsoe. Before the announcement, the Blue Devils only had one commitment from four-star shooting guard Grayson Allen (#36 overall, #7 SG), but now have arguably the top two players at the center and point guard positions. Despite the leap, Kentucky only falls one spot to the No. 2 ranking and still has four players ranked inside the top 31 with point guard Tyler Ulis (#29), shooting guard Devin Booker (#31), power forward Trey Lyles (#8), and center Karl Towns (#11) on board.
5. Dastrup Changes Schools on Signing Day
It’s common in college football for a recruit to pull the old switcharoo, but not so much in college basketball. On the first day of the college signing period, power forward Payton Dastrup changed his collegiate choice from Ohio State to BYU. The four-star center (#18 C – 2014) committed to Ohio State on November 7 in a surprising decision but changed his mind and went with the Cougars on Wednesday of this week. This summer Dastrup played for one of the top AAU teams on the West Coast and averaged 10 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. A Mormon, he plans to take his two-year mission next year and will team up with T.J. Haws (#49 overall, #14 PG – 2014) in 2016.
6. Quentin Snider Heads Home
Last night, Scout.com analyst Evan Daniels tweeted the following:
One day later, Quentin Snider de-committed from Illinois and sent in his Letter of Intent to Louisville. Snider is currently the No. 7 ranked point guard and No. 32 overall prospect in the class of 2014. The Louisville native originally committed to his hometown Cardinals back in August 2011, almost immediately after picking up a scholarship offer. After watching the Cardinals sign two point guards in the class ahead of him in Chris Jones and Terry Rozier, along with current high school senior JaQuan Lyle (#22 overall, #4 PG – 2014), Snider de-committed from Louisville and the seemingly too-crowded backcourt. In September, after a handful of visits, Snider pledged to Illinois and John Groce. Soon after that commitment, Lyle also de-committed from Louisville. With the fall signing period now in effect, though, it appears as though Snider’s heart was set on staying home and in the end did not want to leave the city of Louisville.
7. Daniel Hamilton Not Signing LOI?
Back in May, five-star small forward Daniel Hamilton committed to Connecticut. The Southern California native is currently the No.18 player in the country in the class of 2014, but more importantly he is the brother of Isaac Hamilton (#31 overall, #6 SG), a 2013 McDonald’s All-American. Isaac committed to Tim Floyd and UTEP and signed his Letter of Intent; however this past summer he began to get second thoughts about playing so far from home and wanted to be closer to his ailing grandmother. Isaac eventually settled on UCLA, but Floyd would not let him out of his commitment and he is therefore now forced to sit out the current season. What all that means is that the younger Hamilton will most likely put off the signing of his own Letter of Intent. This could make Husky fans a little nervous that the younger Hamilton might want to stay on the West Coast with his brother, but just last week he traveled to New York to watch UConn take on Maryland at the Barclays Center.