Young's Okafor keeping options open

July, 12, 2012
7/12/12
4:20
PM CT

Whitney Young center Jahlil Okafor, the nation’s No. 2 junior, remains wide open in his recruitment and isn’t affected by Jabari Parker’s college list, according to Okafor’s father on Thursday.

Parker, the nation’s top ranked junior who plays with Okafor on the Mac Irvin Fire and the 17-and-under U.S. national team, released a list of 10 schools he was considering on Wednesday. The list included BYU, DePaul, Duke, Florida, Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, North Carolina and Stanford.

Okafor’s father, Chukwudi Okafor, said Thursday his son’s recruiting process was still in its infancy.

“Jahlil and Jabari are two different things,” Chukwudi said. “It makes sense for Jabari to have a list now. Jahlil’s goal is to get better, and everything else when the dust settles he will know about (his recruitment.)”

One of the biggest surprises of Parker’s list was the exclusion of in-state Illinois. Chukwudi said Okafor won’t be affected by that and is still open to being recruited by Illinois coach John Groce.

“I’ve spoken to coach Groce quite often,” Chukwudi said. “He texts me. I talk to him and call him. He’s trying. I give him that. I think he’s trying to find the right way to build a relationship with my family. I think he feels he has a chance, and he does.

“I know it’s the same old thing, but we have no idea right now. He’s not going to Kennedy-King College or somewhere of that nature.”

Chukwudi said he and his son would begin to delve deeper in the recruitment process this upcoming school year and begin making visits.

Okafor returned home to Chicago this week after earning MVP honors at the FIBA U17 World Championship in Lithuania. He averaged 13.6 points and 8.3 rebounds while helping the United States to an 8-0 record and a gold medal.

“That was a proud moment,” Chukwudi said. “We watched Jabari get that last year and saw how hard he plays. That’s one of those things that shows all of the hard work is paying off.”

Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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