By Joe Henricksen
While Proviso East wrapped up the tournament title at Riverside-Brookfield this past weekend and confirmed its place among the top teams heading into next season, there was no question who the top individual talent was at R-B. Whitney Young's Jahlil Okafor, who is just wrapping up his freshman year, was a man among boys.
In addition to a low-post game and tremendous feel on the block and around the basket for a player so young, the 6-9 Okafor even showed improvement away from the basket. He stepped out, faced up and knocked down a couple of 15-16 foot jumpers without hesitation.
While Okafor may not have the explosiveness and pure athleticism many top national prospects will showcase, he is very nimble and has good balance. Plus, his feet are pretty quick for a player who carries that much weight. His footwork, great hands, superior power, strength and overall ability for his age are second to none. Okafor is such a physical mismatch, especially at the high school level, every time he hits the floor. He's a no-brainer high-major with star potential.
The duo of Okafor and classmate Paul White, a 6-6 point forward, will be quite a tandem over the next three years for Whitney Young.
Player movement stirs up
A rumor that has been floating around since the regular season ended in March appears to have finally come to fruition -- star sophomore guard Jaylon Tate is leaving De La Salle. The rumored destination is Tate will be heading to Simeon, but as of this past weekend nothing has been finalized.
Tate, however, leaves a stable situation at De La Salle, where he has been running the show at point guard for two years and is poised to take a big step forward with the departure of Dre Henley and Mike Shaw. The trio of Tate, Alvin Ellis and Alex Foster would certainly have put the Meteors in the preseason top five next season.
In addition to the Tate transfer, Downers Grove South looks as if it will be without Jerron Wilbut, a talented 6-2 guard who helped the Mustangs to a regional title this past March. DGS would be a likely preseason top 10 team with Wilbut. However, the senior-to-be looks as though he may be headed the prep school route, possibly landing at La Lamuire Prep Academy in Indiana.
Look for the ball to be in Billy Garrett's hands a whole lot more at Morgan Park as it appears classmate Markee Williams, a talented 5-9 point guard in the Class of 2013, is likely moving on to another city program.
Another point guard moving on is little dynamo Derrick Randolph. After being in and out of the lineup and dealing with eligibility issues throughout his career at Whitney Young, the 5-6 Randolph will be at Phillips. While Randolph is a terrific little package of talent, he will need to find a way to stay on the court and playing.
And Bogan, a team that surprised this past season and would have definitely been a ranked team in the preseason, could be decimated by transfers. Multiple players appear to be moving on -- and are already playing with others schools this spring -- including up-and-coming 6-8 sophomore Moshawn Thomas.
Look for more coverage from the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout later this week.