As expected, there was a mass exodus from Kentucky on Thursday, with seven players declaring for the 2015 NBA Draft. Potential No. 1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns was one of the Wildcats to declare, and Towns’s prime competition for the No. 1 pick also declared for the draft on Thursday. That, of course, would be Duke’s Jahlil Okafor, who’s fresh off a national title.
Okafor was the most dominant offensive big man in the country in his lone season at Duke, earning National Freshman of the Year honors and both Freshman and Player of the Year honors in the ACC. The big man became the first freshman ever to win the ACC Player of the Year award.
Okafor averaged 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks on the season while shooting 66.4 percent from the field. During the Blue Devils’ run to the national title, he averaged 15.0 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting 63.5 percent. The center struggled for much of the title game against Wisconsin before coming up big down the stretch.
At 6’11 and 270 pounds, Okafor is a load down low, but he’s also nimble in the post with a bevy of moves at his disposal. He has incredible footwork for such a young player, and he also has solid handle for a big man.
There are some concerns about Okafor’s defense. He’s not the most mobile of players, and the fact that he only blocked 1.4 shots per game despite his height and a 7’6 wingspan is somewhat troubling. His shot also needs some work, as he made just 51.0 percent of his free throws.
While there’s reason to have some concerns about Okafor’s defense, his advanced skill in the post should allow him to contribute right away at the next level. Many have moved Towns ahead of Okafor for the No. 1 pick, but it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise if the Duke freshman still winds up going first overall.