Top incoming freshman Jahlil Okafor already has lofty expectations, but with recent news that he has been named CBSSports.com’s preseason player of the year, they’ve only gotten higher. But if you’re thinking Okafor will shy away from the hype, according to Gary Parrish’s interview with the Duke center, you have another thought coming.
“My expectations for myself are higher than the expectations anybody else could put on me,” Okafor told me during a long conversation in an office positioned just off the court here inside Cameron Indoor Stadium. “So however good people say I’m going to be this year, my plan is to be even better. And I definitely feel like I’m ready to do it.”
“When I step on the court, it really doesn’t matter if I’m a freshman or a senior,” Okafor said. “It’s basketball, and I’ve been playing basketball my entire life. So I feel extremely confident about going out there and playing against anybody and feeling unstoppable and being just as dominant as I have been in my previous years of playing basketball. So somebody saying I can’t [be National Player of the Year] because I’m a freshman is kinda ludicrous to me.”
I wonder if Coach K watches practice while continuously doing the Bird Man hand rub.
This season should be a joy to watch for Duke fans. Recent Blue Devil squads haven’t lacked talent, but the key component that prevented them from getting over the hump was inconsistent post play. With the 6’11” force that is constantly getting compared to Tim Duncan, Okafor just may be what Coach K needs to raise his 5th National Championship banner.