2014 Recruiting Talk: Chicago Edition

Remember when Kansas lost all five starters and Jayhawk fans were saddened with the idea that they would have to suffer through a “rebuilding year” in 2013-14? Remember when Assistant Coach Joe Dooley left for Dunk City (Florida Gulf Coast University)? Remember how quickly we all got over that when a certain Andrew Wiggins declared he would come play for Kansas?

I’ve got news for you, and that is to get used to this system because Kansas is eagerly becoming a ‘one and done’ school.

New Assistant Coach Jerrance Howard has been off to a fast start at Kansas. Howard is likely to fill in the gaps of recruiting where Joe Dooley left off and Howard has his eyes set high. If you haven’t yet heard the name Jahlil Okafor yet… get used to it. You’ll be hearing of it a lot in the next couple of months.

Okafor is the current number one overall player in the 2014 recruiting class, a 6’10″, 265 lb center out of Chicago, Illinois has shown superior talent at Whitney Young High School. Already returning from a visit at Baylor University and Kentucky, the senior plans to visit Kansas, Arizona and Baylor in the coming months but if you thought it would be easy recruiting Okafor, you should think again.

Okafor announced over the summer break that he would package himself with the number one overall point guard in the 2014 recruiting class, Tyus Jones. Jones is currently at Apple Valley in Minnesota.

The Jayhawks are currently recruiting Jaquan Lyle, the fifth highest-rated point guard of the 2014 class. If Lyle comes to Kansas, it is very possible that Jones won’t come to Kansas because of point guard depth. Consider that Kansas already has freshman Frank Mason and Conner Frankamp on the Kansas roster, adding a third and fourth point guard might be too much competition.

Today, Tyus Jones’ mother told Jayhawk Slant that he has canceled his visit to Kentucky and Jones himself told USA Today’s Jason Jordan that his next visit is to Kansas on October 18th.

Expect Jones to keep Kansas in the mix but at this point in time, Duke is most likely his favorite choice. With Jones making most of the decision making in the duo’s package deal, that also makes Duke the favorite for Okafor.

While Jones canceled his visit to Kentucky, that doesn’t mean Calipari and the Wildcats don’t have a shot at the duo either. Both Kentucky and Duke have wide open point guard slots for the 2014-15 season. Additionally, Calipari is experienced working with package deals (the Harrison brothers for example).

Both Jones and Okafor are expected to be late signings so it is still possible Coach Bill Self can pull off a last-second miracle similar to the Andrew Wiggins signing.

If you think Jones and Okafor are long shots, you should also know that Kansas has their attention on another Chicago native, who is also part of a package combo in the 2014 class.

Cliff Alexander, the top rated power forward from Chicago, seems to favor the Jayhawks so far. Alexander recently cut Kentucky from his list and has strong ties to Coach Howard. Alexander has noted that Howard was the first coach to offer him an opportunity to play college basketball. When Alexander was asked about his list of schools, Alexander was all smiles discussing the Jayhawks.

In the last week, Alexander tweeted out that he’d be attending college with the previously mentioned point guard, Jaquan Lyle. Lyle, a 6′ 4″ point guard from Indiana, has visits scheduled for Memphis, Connecticut and Arizona in the coming weeks. Lyle recently decommited from Louisville. With Kansas interested in both Alexander and Lyle, the Jayhawks seem to be the front-runner for the duo. 

Alexander and Lyle are both visiting Kansas on October 14th.

The best sign that Alexander is planning on coming to Lawrence next year? Recently, Alexander was asked what offers stood out most from the universities recruiting him. Alexander replied that he could “never turn down Kansas.”

Additionally, Alexander’s girlfriend, Caelynn Manning-Allen is attending Kansas next year (and is also playing basketball for Bonnie).

While Alexander did tweet out that he would be attending college with Lyle, he also has said he won’t force the issue if a school can’t or won’t take both players.

With Late Night in the Phog coming up, the recruiting season will be in full-swing.  It’ll be interesting to see what October brings!

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