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April 13, 2013

Top junior says he's still open

When you are the top-ranked player in your class, the attention finds you. So far, the nation's top junior Jahlil Okafor is comfortable with all of the interest and his role as a true big man.

A 6-foot-10 center at Chicago (Ill.) Whitney Young, Okafor has never sought attention, but already handles the media like a pro. It's no secret that he and the nation's No. 3 player in 2014, Tyus Jones, are considering attending school together.

Because of that, there are plenty of questions about when they'll make visits or decide.

"We don't know when we are going to decide," Okafor told Rivals.com. "We still have to start planning our official visits because me and Tyus are taking some official visits together. So we just have to plan that out with my parents and his parents."

The bond between Okafor and Jones is easy to understand. Okafor is a high-level big man and Jones is a top point guard who gets him the ball. Their games blend together nicely and the friendship helps them sort things out.

"It's a lot easier to have somebody that you can relate to that is going through the same things you are going through," said Okafor of his bond with Jones. "I can talk to him about anything, he can talk to me about anything. It makes it a lot easier."

Earlier this week, Okafor hosted Ohio State for an in-home visit. Also involved are Michigan State, North Carolina, Kansas, Illinois, DePaul, Arizona, Kentucky, Baylor and Duke among others.

Of late, there's been a big buzz about the Blue Devils possibly leading, but Okafor says there is nothing to it.

"That's not true," said Okafor when asked if Duke is his leader. "I really do love Duke, but I really love a lot of other schools too. But, I think with Jabari Parker going there that just makes everybody think I'm going there also but that's not the case."

In no hurry to make a decision, Okafor says that he would like to get his list down to seven sometime relatively soon. In the meantime, he's been working on his game.

Okafor looks to be in better shape than ever during recent games. He gives a lot of credit to the coaching staff of his summer team the Mac Irvin Fire.

"The Fire coaches they know my conditioning is going to be a real factor to my success," said Okafor. "So they've been on me about running up and down the floor. During practice I do a bunch of suicides and they make me do extra suicides and all that stuff so it's all through my coaches."

A smooth operator in the low post, Okafor has size, skill and great hands to go along with a feel for how to play the game. While many young big men fight the temptation to gravitate to the perimeter, he's most comfortable where the spotlight has been shining on him the brightest, the low post.

"I'm very comfortable with that, that's what I am," he said. "I am a post player. That's something that I enjoy doing. That's where I'm most effective so I love being called a true post player."



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