When throwing around the word "elite," the 2014 prospects that first come to mind are usually Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones. That's because the duo has maintained the aura of the "package deal," as most recruitniks believe that the two will eventually pick the same school.
Okafor, a stud center from Chicago (IL) Whitney Young, tops the 247 Composite rankings despite just recently dropping down to 6th in Jerry Meyer's 247 Sports rankings. Jones, a smooth passing point guard from Apple Valley (MN), follows closely behind at third overall in the 247 Composite. That's one heck of a package deal.
Jones just recently announced his visit list via Twitter. He has scheduled an official visit to see the Kentucky Wildcats the weekend of September 27. Jones also scheduled official visits to check out the Baylor Bears, Kansas Jayhawks, and Duke Blue Devils. All of Jones' visits will happen this fall, prior to the start of college basketball season. Jones also took another unofficial visit to his local program, the Minnesota Golden Gophers. He conceivably could take one more visit, as he is still one short of his allotted five.
Meanwhile, Okafor previously outlined his visit schedule, with Okafor planning to be in Lexington on September 9 for the alumni charity game. That means Okafor and Jones won't be visiting Kentucky together.
Jones' three other trips will include Okafor: Baylor (weekend of August 30), Kansas (weekend of October 18), and Duke (weekend of October 25). Okafor will also take a fifth official visit, to see the Arizona Wildcats on October 8. Like Jones, Okafor plans to unofficially visit nearby schools, the Illinois Fighting Illini, Michigan St. Spartans, and Ohio St. Buckeyes, prior to making his decision.
The flurry of fall official visits means that both Okafor and Jones are likely to make their collegiate decision prior to the early signing period starting in November. Assuming the players follow through with their pledge, one team will be ecstatic, while all others will have ample time to recruit other players going into the spring.
Most recruiting analysts believe that Okafor and Jones will end up at Duke, a rumor that Okafor disputes. The good news is that with the official visits scheduled, Kentucky head coach John Calipari is clearly not giving up on the big-little pair. While the two aren't visiting Lexington together, perhaps eye-opening individual experiences could lead the duo to choose Kentucky in the end.
The early decision also bodes well for Calipari's recruiting strategy. The Wildcats are also closely linked with Texan five-star point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who will almost assuredly make a decision after Jones. Another Texan, Myles Turner, is being hotly recruited by Kansas, Duke, Ohio St., and others. He has noted that he will decide in the spring, and represents a nice fallback option for the losers in the Okafor sweepstakes.
Kentucky may not be the favorite to land Jones and Okafor, but as always, the Wildcats remain involved in discussions for most of the top-rated recruits. We'll see what kind of mark Calipari will leave after the pair takes their individual visits.
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