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Big Men in the Class Of 2014

With Andrew Wiggins' commitment to Kansas this past May, the class of 2013 recruiting season is in the books. College basketball fans are looking forward to the class of 2014. Leading the class are two big men, Karl Towns Jr. and Jahlil Okafor.

Karl Towns Jr., a St. Joseph’s(NJ) product and ranked number 4 in the class of 2014 by ESPN, possesses great perimeter shooting skills. His ability to shoot the three and make jump shots sets himself apart from other big men. Although standing at 7 foot 1, he does not have the same playing style as that of other big men. Instead of playing in the paint, he opts to take jump shots and shoot the three. Towns is both an aggressive and proficient scorer, averaging 21.3 points a game. Defensively, his presence in the paint and 7 foot 3 wingspan helped him develop strong rebounding and blocking skills, as demonstrated by his 14.3 rebounds and 5.1 blocks per game during his junior season. Despite these strengths, scouts have criticized Towns for his lack of toughness. However, his play in the paint is slowly improving as a result of his experience playing with the Dominican National Basketball Team and has shown great development in the past year.

Since his freshman year, Towns has drawn the attention of numerous college coaches including Jay Wright and John Calipari. Once a top prospect in the class of 2015, Towns has since reclassified to the class of 2014. Despite fielding several offers including those from Rutgers, Villanova, Seton Hall, Syracuse, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Florida, and Kentucky, Towns chose Kentucky this past December because of his earlier connections with Calipari.

The other big man that has drawn attention from several scouts is Jahlil Okafor. Rated the number 1 prospect in the class of 2014 by ESPN, Okafor has been praised for his ability to play well in the paint. Contrary to Towns, Okafor plays a more traditional center position. His size, strength, and overall presence in the paint provide him with the tools required to be a great rebounder and scorer. In addition, Okafor has great mobility and outstanding ball handling skills which enable him to create his own shot. This past year at Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago, Okafor averaged a solid 20.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Okafor’s athleticism and build will help him play on the next level.

            Okafor has fielded numerous offers from several college programs. This past May he stated that he plans to cut his list to about 7 or 8 in the coming months. Among the colleges vying to get Okafor are Michigan State, Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, and Ohio State.

            Both Jahlil Okafor and Karl Towns Jr. will have an immediate impact once they enter college. Both their athleticism and play making skills will enable them to thrive at the college level and onward.