The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones pick Duke, ensuring the Blue Devils remain title contenders

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Two of the three recruits on this post obliged. Will Justise Winslow follow (Getty Images)

We already knew Kentucky was unlikely to have the nation's No. 1 recruiting class in 2014 for the first time in John Calipari's tenure.

Now we know it's probably Duke who will dethrone the Wildcats.

The Blue Devils became the heavy favorite to claim that honor Friday afternoon when they received commitments from center Jahlil Okafor and point guard Tyus Jones, Rivals.com's No. 1 and No. 5 recruits in the Class of 2014. Okafor and Jones, who chose Duke over Kansas and Baylor, are generally considered the most coveted package deal in basketball recruiting since Greg Oden and Mike Conley jointly pledged to Ohio State in 2006.

The addition of Okafor and Jones ensures Duke will at the very least remain in contention for the national championship next season and could very well enter as the title favorite.

The 6-foot-11 Okafor, from Whitney Young (Ill.), will be one of the most polished back-to-the-basket centers to enter college basketball in years. He is strong enough to establish position on the block, skilled enough to finish over either shoulder and poised enough to capably pass out of a double team.

The 6-foot-1 Jones, from Apple Valley (Minn.), isn't a freakish athlete, but he's clearly the best pure point guard in his class. He controls tempo, he has tremendous court vision, he is quick enough to get in the lane and he can score via an accurate jump shot or by finishing at the rim.

Okafor will fill a void at center for Duke, which is starting forward Amile Jefferson at the position this season and has only injury-plagued Marshall Plumlee at the position for next season. Jones could force incumbent point guard Quinn Cook to the bench next season or he could lead Mike Krzyzewski to play two point guards at one time.

It's almost certain forward Jabari Parker will be in the NBA and Rodney Hood and Rasheed Sulaimon are also early-entry candidates, but the addition of Okafor and Jones ensures Duke will have plenty of talent. Promising shooting guard prospect Grayson Allen is also on board and the Blue Devils are still hoping for a commitment in the spring from forward Justise Winslow, Rivals.com's No. 9 recruit in the nation.

Okafor and Jones were not the only elite recruits to announce decisions on Friday.

Kansas got some consolation for losing Okafor and Jones by landing Rivals.com's No. 4 recruit, forward Cliff Alexander of Chicago. Arizona continued its recent recruiting roll under Sean Miller by securing Rivals.com's No. 3 recruit, wing Stanley Johnson from Santa Ana Mater Dei (Calif.). And four-star point guard Quinton Snider reneged on his decision to commit to Illinois and signed with Louisville instead.

Still, the story of the day was Duke's coup.

Since so many potential package deals fall through when two recruits find it hard to settle on the same school, most were skeptical when Okafor and Jones first said months ago that they intended to play together in college.

Turns out they followed through on the promise and Duke is the big benefactor.

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