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Rompza: Young’s Okafor strives to be the best

11/29/2012, 10:45pm CST
By A.J. Rompza

After winning a gold medal for the 17 and under USA team, Young center Jahlil Okafor is dedicated to becoming the number one player in the country.


There are very few high school basketball players that earn the right to say they are the number one prospect in the country. Young’s Jahlil Okafor, a 6-11, 270 pound junior, is determined to fulfill that expectation. Without a doubt, he is nothing short of extraordinary.

Okafor is widely considered one of the top big men to ever play in the state of Illinois. He is dedicated, driven and humble. Suffering the loss of his mother at age eleven, he strives to be the very best. He attributes his confidence on the court to his mother being with him in spirit every time he plays, and before some of his most challenging games, he takes a moment to connect with her, asking for guidance and strength.

While colleges hound him for a commitment, he has his mind set on one thing: a state championship. One of the most unpretentious athletes I’ve ever met at an elite level, he awards his humbleness to coach Tyrone Slaughter, teammates, and most importantly his father and family.

Slaughter credits Okafor’s success to his dedication to being the best in the game. Being the best means playing against some of the other top athletes in the city such as Simeon’s Jabari Parker.

“[Parker] takes a lot of the pressure off of me, he’s one of my best friends,” Okafor said.

Okafor and Parker have developed a close bond both on and off the court that has given him a better understanding of what being the best entails.

When asked about his most significant accomplishment of his young career, Okafor stated, “Winning the gold medal for the 17 and under USA team, pushed me to elevate my game by playing with the best. As a result, it allowed me to earn MVP.”

The young phenom is looking to utilize the national experience he gained to lead his team to a state title.

Young will compete in the Chicago Elite Classic this weekend at UIC against DeMatha (Md.) at 6:30 pm.


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