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Young's Jahlil Okafor scores two over DeLaSalle at King. Stacia Timonere/For Sun Times Media
Young coach Tyrone Slaughter sums it up nicely: “For four years we were thwarted by a phenomenal Simeon team.”
Jabari Parker and Kendrick Nunn have moved on to college and there is not a team in the state capable of matching the Dolphins’ star power.
Jahlil Okafor is the best player in the country. According to Slaughter the senior big man has been working on his conditioning over the summer. The two biggest chinks in Okafor’s armor have been rebounding and conditioning. It appears one of those issues may be solved.
“He has really done a phenomenal job of getting himself in tip-top shape,” Slaughter said. “He is at an optimal level of conditioning heading into the season.”
Slaughter also expects to see an expanded mid-range game from Okafor, who has spent his entire career playing under the basket.
“He has worked very hard on his middle-range game,” Slaughter said. “I don’t think he will do it a lot, but he now has the ability to face the basket and score from maybe free throw line extended or free throw line in.”
Senior forward Paul White fractured his arm over the summer but is expected to be completely healthy in time for the season. The 6-9 Georgetown commit will be counted on heavily. The Dolphins will need him to handle the ball, rebound and score. A more dominant White would help Young handle the loss of LJ Peak, who has returned to South Carolina.
“[White] has been cleared to play, he’s working out and has been in open gyms,” Slaughter said. “I saw him play yesterday and aside from fatigue issues he looked pretty good.”
There are two new additions to the program: 6-4 sophomore Skyler Nash, a transfer from De La Salle, and 5-10 junior guard Ant Mosley Jr., a transfer from Providence-St. Mel.
Neither player has been cleared to play yet, but Slaughter is hopeful that will happen sometime in the next week.
Mosley would be a huge addition. He can shoot, get to the basket and handle the ball. He won’t be the defender that Ausar Madison was last season, but he will be much more of a threat on offense, which should help take some of the double-teams off of Okafor.
Miles Reynolds will be back in the shooting guard slot.
“He is our glue guy, he keeps everything together and gives us tremendous energy,” Slaughter said. “He has taken a back seat to other guys over the past few years but now we will ask him to score more and I think that’s something he can do. He had a tremendous summer.”
Young’s next star may be Lucas Williamson. Slaughter says he won’t be able to keep the talented 6-2 freshman off the floor.
The Dolphins will once again play a national schedule, facing top-ranked teams all over the country. There will be one major change: Young and Simeon do not have a regular season game scheduled. The Dolphins didn’t have any room left on the schedule after the Public League switched to a 10-game conference play format.
That’s going to leave a major hole in the December hoops landscape while putting even more intensity and attention on possible Young-Simeon matchups in the city and state tournament.