This is without a question the biggest weekend for Duke basketball’s 2014-2015 season. As most of us already know, the package deal of Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones are in the Bull City this weekend along with Justise Winslow. Many experts who follow college basketball recruiting have Duke as the frontrunners to land the dynamic duo, but the biggest point is how big these next few days are.
Obviously, the biggest thing for Duke is to impress all three by showing off the best facilities of any college in the entire country. They have the best coach in the college and at least what I feel as the best coach in the history of basketball. They have the opportunity to see guys like Rodney Hood, Jabari Parker, and Quinn Cook who have shown how a swing man (Justise), a point guard (Tyus), and if you want to look back to last season, how Duke established their offense through Mason Plumlee which would show Jahlil how Duke can develop big men. Here is a brief breakdown of the styles of play of these three young men:
Jahlil Okafor a 6-10, 265 lb is the best big man of all in the 2014 recruiting class. The Chicago, Illinois product has transformed his body to and is moving much, much better than he had been in the past. He has shown the ability to soar over the rim for thunderous jams, block shots, and most importantly, he has an improved post game where he can knock down a jump-hook with his right hand that would only improve like Mason’s did during his Duke tenure. He is a very good athlete who can run the court well for a man of his size and stature and he is a big presence down low on offense and defense. Being from Chicago, the same place as Jabari Parker, might not do much for his decision, but you never know.
Tyus Jones is widely regarded and has been for a while now as the best point guard in the entire 2014 recruiting class. He is a tremendous athlete who facilitates the point guard position with an incredible amount of poise. He is always under control and most importantly, he is a pass-first point guard. Even though he has this label, that doesn’t mean he won’t drive to the rack for a layup or a floater. His knowledge of the game is unlike many high school players and he knows when it is his time to shoot. He isn’t a “shot-happy” point guard, but he picks his spots really well. If Duke does wind up getting these two, that would be something extraordinary
Justise Winslow is an absolute freak of an athlete. He gets lost in the fold of this trip because Okafor and Jones, but he really shouldn’t. His ability to post up as a small forward has proved to be lethal with an above average spin move and can also face-up with his lefty jumper that can reach beyond three-point range. If you have seen an highlights of him, you know how special he is once he gets a head of steam or drives the lane. He finishes with ferocious jams and runs the floor as well as anybody that I’ve seen. If Duke were able to land him, that would be a huge get because they will most likely lose Parker and Hood to the NBA.
Why is this trip so important outside of the obvious? Look at who Duke has so far in the class of 2014. They have one commit in sharp-shooting guard, Grayson Allen. That’s it. If Duke impresses the duo of Okafor and Jones as well as Winslow, their mediocre recruiting class will have just turned from one guard to three or four elite players. This would also give Duke a very good problem with two above average point guards with Quinn Cook and Tyus Jones. This would also give Duke a true big man to go along with Marshall Plumlee which would move Amile Jefferson back to his natural position at the 4. Justise Winslow would bring the aforementioned, a key piece to fill in for the possible losses of Hood and Parker. This weekend is a big one for Coach Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils.