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December 3, 2012

Okafor deserving of top billing


Over the weekend, Chicago powers Simeon and Whitney Young partnered to help make the first ever Chicago Elite Showcase happen.

Overall, the results in year No. 1 were very good. We learned a lot over the weekend and one of Chitown's finest, Jahlil Okafor, played up to his top billing.

Deserving of No. 1

There will certainly be plenty of competition as the class of 2014 makes its way to the finish line. For now, though, Jahlil Okafor is the nation's No. 1 player in the class of 2014 and he showed why at the CEC.

What we are seeing with Okafor is the type of player that we just don't see very often. There just haven't been many center prospects over the past 5-6 years that have the same combination of size, hands and back-to-the-basket scoring ability that the 6-foot-10 junior has to offer.

Playing at highly visible Chicago (Ill.) Whitney Young, the lights are shining on Okafor and he proved again over the weekend that he's capable of delivering.

His 35 points and nine rebounds against Hyatsville (Md.) DeMatha came with ease. Never out of control, never forcing things, Okafor did his work with physicality and skill.

Duke, Illinois, Michigan State, Ohio State, Arizona, Kentucky, Kansas and many others would love to land the junior who is projecting as an impact player in the low post.

Wherever Okafor goes, he's got the early lead in the race to be the top player in 2014.

Needing time

In the state of Ohio, and around the country, there are already very high hopes for freshman V.J. King.

A 6-foot-5 wing at Akron (Ohio) St. Vincent-St. Mary, King is an impressive-looking prospect who has both skill and athleticism. King can handle the ball pretty well, is an excellent jump-shooter off the dribble and has a natural way about making plays on both ends of the floor.

King has an ideal frame for a wing and is pretty good laterally. But again, he's just a freshman and our hope is that expectations for him don't get out of control even though he looks likely to be five-star prospect.

King will need to learn to attack the rim a little more and to not settle as much for deep jumpers. But, the feel for how to attack defenders and mix things up will come with time and his instincts are great.

So far, King reports scholarship offers from Ohio State, Wisconsin, UNC Greensboro, Charlotte and Iowa State and more are likely to come.

With those offers will come more expectations but hopefully people will be reasonable and remember that while talented, King will still have some growing pains.

Tough guy

A lot of guys talk about toughness on the floor. They say they like creating contact and playing with physicality. The fact is, there just aren't many high school players who truly embrace a physical style of play.

Eric Mika of Highland (Utah) Lone Peak is one dude who does.

Headed to BYU the four-star senior is a well-built 6-foot-8 interior player. A fine athlete who runs from end to end and has good hands, Mika has skill and isn't just some brawler who cleans up the garbage in the lane.

However, it is Mika's willingness to brawl -- within the rules of the game -- in the low post that makes him so fun to watch. He makes sure that his opponent always knows he's there and he plays with fire and confidence.

Ranked No. 72 in the class of 2013, Mika will be a welcome addition in Provo.



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