Okafor Makes U19 Cut & Hopes to Join Jones, Winslow in College (UPDATED)

The U.S. U19 roster was cut to 16 on Sunday, and Jahlil Okafor and close friend 6-6 Justise Winslow are the lone prep players still in the mix for the USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Championship Team.

So far in practices, Okafor has been battling college big men such as Shaq Goodwin of Memphis, Jarnell Stokes of Tennessee, Robert Carter of Georgia Tech and Montrezl Harrell of Louisville.

“It’s been very competitive playing with all these college guys and I’m working very hard and it’s been a lot of fun,” Okafor told SNY.tv Sunday morning by phone from Colorado Springs. Colo.

Last summer, Okafor, out of Chicago Whitney Young, won a gold medal at the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship and was named tournament MVP.

Now, he’s trying to jump up to the U19 group, which will cut its roster from 16 to 12 at some future date.

“It would mean a lot for them to consider me as one of the top players here with all the top college players,” Okafor said. “And knowing that a lot of these guys could’ve went in the NBA if they chose to, but they stayed in college. So if I was able to make the cut, it would mean a lot to me and knowing a lot of my hard work is paying off.”

As roommates, Okafor said he and Winslow have discussed possibly playing together in college, along with Minnesota point guard Tyus Jones.

“That would be ideal if everybody’s situation to work out and we all end up at the same college, that would be perfect,” Okafor said. “But at the end of the day we have to do what’s best for each other.”

Okafor recently trimmed his list to eight schools:  Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Illinois, Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan State and Ohio State.

Jones is also considering Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio State, Michigan State and Minnesota.

The two will take a visit to Baylor at the end of August, and it’s possible Winslow could join them on the visit.

Winslow echoed Okafor’s comments that a three-person package deal is a possibility.

“I mean, it’s something we talk about,” Winslow told SNY.tv of the potential package. “All three of us have to do what’s best for us, and if it just so happens that we all go to the same school, then that will be great.”

Still, the perception by many is that Okafor and Jones will end up at Duke together.

“That’s a rumor, I’m not committed yet,” Okafor said. “That’s a rumor.”

Okafor said he’s still considering all the schools on his list.

For now, Okafor is intent on making the final cut. And if he does, he believes it will improve his game going forward.

“A lot better, not just playing competition but the practices playing against the best players in college basketball and also with the coaches, the guidance, we have some of the best coaches in the country helping me develop,” Okafor said. “So it will really help improve me a lot.”

Duke and Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski — who is recruiting Okafor and Winslow and also coaches U19 player Rasheed Sulaimon — spoke to the group along with his assistant, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim.

“[They said] at the 19 level we haven’t been as successful as we wish,” Okafor said. “All the other levels of USA Basketball have been exceptionally successful except for 19-year-olds, so they just wanted to let us know that our expectation is always the gold medal.”

**For more stories on the USA U19 & U16 teams, click here.

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23 comments
dorahrice
dorahrice


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bob
bob

With out Big Mo, Richardson and Geno . Last night I feel like I got ran over by a big truck.


hazard2012
hazard2012

@bob


Don't you think you weren't.   But it'll get better.  Give Todd & Co.a few more weeks to whip these guys into shape.     

Matthieu Laughlington
Matthieu Laughlington

Well look at that, Richardson is a mentor already in his second year. Amazing how quickly he's been able to mature and make a positive impact for the team.

marcus81
marcus81

when is Coples gonna be sighted playing a game?

marcus81
marcus81

Williams will be needed sooner than later, Richardson will probably be out 8 games

hanknaples
hanknaples

The "Best Player in the Draft" is expected start and Make an Impact right away!!

Unfortunately as I said before, this is looking more and more like Wilson 2.0 being the "Best DB in the Draft" 

I know some of you will laugh, again, but Thank God the difference is Wilson was a rd#1 failure but Big Cat will make a much needed Tight End!!!

funkymonk
funkymonk

@hanknaples what in god's name are you smoking, and where can i purchase some of it

hanknaples
hanknaples

@levi @hanknaples

Hey Levi how are the BBQ's and the Hard Cider going?

Never said he's a bust but I see a couple of flaws that he needs TONS of work (if he even can) to overcome....mostly his "Push" coming from his upper body (upright) and not his legs!!

I see some great athleticism, speed and great hands....major traits in a TE.

WW85
WW85

@hanknaples Even by your standards, Hank even you have to admit you're insane today

hanknaples
hanknaples

@WW85 @hanknaples

WW85, by my standards EH?? I don't think I should take that as a compliment LOL but, i hate  to say it,  I've been correct more often than not in my evaluation of players/peoples  skills!

But if you take a close look at Big Cat you'll see that his push generally comes from his upper body and his successes come from his quickness...not his power !!



levi
levi

@hanknaples  Hi Hank.


damn, you guys need to chill. It was the first pre season game and he only played a little. I think comparing him to a bust is just a bit premature, no?

WW85
WW85

Well, Judging an NFL player by a few pre season snaps is generally flawed, wouldn't you say?

hanknaples
hanknaples

@WW85

True but he does have tape...tons of it and the general consensus was generally good with some saw flaws !!

I happen to think those "flaws" are the reason he is not making an impact right away and that his positive traits are better suited for the TE position!!

Believe or not I see him as the JJ Watt of the TE's !!

hanknaples
hanknaples

@funkymonk @hanknaples

The "Best player In the Draft" (number 6 overall)  IS supposed to start and make an impact right away.....NOT just "get off the ball some" !!!

Mark Phelan
Mark Phelan

@levi @hanknaples No - not premature - first game OK - but he was not good.  Face it.  It could be first game and he WAS good.  Big difference.

jaym
jaym

I would of liked to see him play more to get use to the NFL