Prospect Profile: Jahlil Okafor


Low post play has always been a specialty and a priority for the North Carolina Tar Heels.  From Tyler Hansbrough to Sam Perkins, UNC prides itself in developing big men to be college standouts and high NBA draft picks.  One potential big man in the future for the Heels is center Jahlil Okafor.  Jahlil is a force inside standing at 6’9 and weighing 270 pounds and has the ability to run the floor as well as rebound, two skills that UNC loves.  Jahlil’s biggest strengths are his low post moves and rebounding but he still lacks habit to outlet pass if needed and play facing the basket.  He has the skills to do both of these but breaking bad habits comes with coaching, practice, and playing.

Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Out of  all the big men to have come out of UNC one past UNC player to compare Jahlil Okafor to is Rasheed Wallace.  Jahlil isn’t as tall as Rasheed, but his ability to be a force down low and run the floor helps makes his case to being similar to the past star.  Another similarity is passion.  No, Jahlil isn’t as hot headed as Rasheed (there are few people that are), but the love for the game is shown when they play.  Both are true competitors and Okafor could easily be the face of the UNC basketball team and also a top player analysts love during the season.  Being ranked number two overall in his class, Okafor would no doubt be an instant asset to the offensive and defensive side of the ball, but the one question that lingers is “Will Jahlil come to North Carolina?”

Jahlil has talked about how he is one of the only two people from Chicago that has his office phone number (the other Michael Jordan) and that he respects Roy as a person.  Okafor has also publicly said that he hears from UNC the most out of all the teams recruiting him, but he would like to get down to schools such as Kentucky and Kansas to visit.  Another perplexing mystery is the “package deal” that Okafor and number one player Tyus Jones talk about.  While Okafor talks about that he is serious when he says he wants to play with Tyus in the future, it is hard to take seriously.  Jones and Okafor play different positions and there are few teams that have offered both players and have a system to accommodate both players.  Carolina is one of these teams but I can guarantee that Tyus Jones will not come to UNC, so that won’t help the case in landing Okafor.  These points may sound concerning that UNC is at the top but he still wants to explore all options and he wants to play with his friend but he is a kid and is still early in the whole process and in the end I feel Okafor will pick what is best for him.

I feel that UNC has a legitimate chance at landing Jahlil regardless of what is said.  With Joel James more than likely staying till his upperclassmen years and Kennedy Meeks coming in, it may seem unlikely to land him but it’s North Carolina and you never know when someone will depart to league or transfer to UCLA.  So trust in Roy and his philosophy and we may just see Jahlil in Tar Heel blue in two seasons!