For Kansas coach Bill Self, the Jayhawks’ matchup with No. 4 Duke in the Champions Classic on Tuesday night could turn into more than just a basketball road trip.
It could be a final impression during one of the most importing recruiting weeks of the year.
Chicago native Jahlil Okafor, the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit, announced on his Twitter account Monday that he will unveil his college decision at 3 p.m. on Friday. In the same hour on Friday, Minnesota point guard Tyus Jones, Rivals’ No. 5 overall recruit, and Chicago forward Cliff Alexander (No. 4) are also expected to announce their college choices at their respective high schools.
“He made up his mind,” Chuck Okafor, Jahlil’s father, toldThe Chicago Tribune.
“He is confident in his choice.”
Even better: Okafor, who is still considering Duke and Kansas, is expected to be in attendance at the United Center when the Jayhawks face the Blue Devils at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. Okafor, a 6-foot-10 senior center from Whitney Young High School, is reportedly still considering Kansas, Duke and Baylor.
Okafor visited Kansas in late October, spending the weekend in Lawrence with Jones, a Minnesota point guard who is also still considering Kansas and Duke. Okafor and Jones have long been adamant that they would like to attend the same school.
The early signing period for college basketball begins Wednesday.
Alexander, a 6-foot-8 power forward, has a final list of schools that includes Illinois, DePaul, Memphis and Kansas. He was in Lawrence this past weekend watching his girlfriend play for the KU women’s team.
Kansas already has one commitment in its 2014 class. Small forward Kelly Oubre, rated as Rivals’ No. 12 overall recruit, chose Kansas over Kentucky in October after attending Late Night in The Phog.
If Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins enters the NBA Draft after this season — and he’s been clear that he will — KU will have two open scholarships for next season. (Forward Tarik Black is the Jayhawks’ only scholarship senior.) The Jayhawks, of course, feature two other freshmen — Wayne Selden and Joel Embiid — who are potential first-round picks.
It’s a slightly different situation for Self, who has had one-and-done players before (Xavier Henry and Josh Selby) but has never faced the possibility of losing as many as three in one year.
“The sense of urgency is we better recruit,” Self said earlier this season. “That’s where the sense of urgency comes in. If there’s a potential for that to happen, we better replace those guys.”