Kansas Basketball: What If Jahlil Okafor And Tyus Jones Chose Jayhawks


The Kansas basketball team could have looked much different this past season if a couple of recruits decided to go to a different school than they did. What if incoming freshman Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor chose the Kansas Jayhawks over the Duke Blue Devils?

Top incoming freshman Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor have long since decided to attend the same college and play for Duke. Obviously, this made the two extremely desirable to every team in the nation. That included both the KU Jayhawks and the Duke Blue Devils, who waged a fierce battle to sign the precocious pair.

The Duke Blue Devils are the 2015 NCAA Tournament Champions. The Blue Devils defeated the Wisconsin Badgers on Monday night 68-63 in large part due to their freshmen stars Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones. Jones ended up taking home tournament MVP honors.

Now, let’s backtrack to the 2014 off-season.

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As their decision came down to the wire, the two narrowed down their selection to two schools after eliminating Baylor and Kentucky from the race to just Duke and Kansas.

At the time, each school only had one commit each and the addition of Jones and Okafor would obviously be huge for each program. At this point in time, the Kansas Jayhawks only had Kelly Oubre committed, and had plenty of room on the roster and starting spots for both players as well.

Duke’s only commit at the time was the National Championship game’s hero Grayson Allen (16 points off the bench), so they also had plenty of room for the duo.

Eventually, the two obviously chose Duke and won a National Title. But, let’s pretend for a minute that this immaculate duo didn’t chose Duke. How good could have the Kansas Jayhawks been if they landed Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor?

Let’s think about it. First, Kansas would have most likely not landed the #3 overall recruit in Cliff Alexander or backup point guard Devonte Graham with the commitment of Okafor and Jones. The Kansas starting lineup would have probably looked like this:

G Tyus Jones

G Wayne Selden Jr.

F Kelly Oubre Jr.

F Perry Ellis

C Jahlil Okafor

IF ONLY. What a lineup. The Kansas Jayhawks would have had some serious scoring power with everyone above having different strengths and ways to score. The big-man duo of Perry Ellis and Okafor would have been one that couldn’t have been matched offensively across the country.


I’m not saying that the Kansas basketball team would have won the championship like Duke did in the end, but they sure would have came a lot closer than they did in reality.

Alexander fell into eligibility issues and didn’t even play the second half of the season for the Jayhawks. Meanwhile, the guys on the court struggled to score at times and really lacked the interior presence that Okafor would have provided on both ends of the floor.

The only positive I see here out of not getting the probable one-and-done duo is the emergence of point guard Frank Mason. Mason was a huge surprise, improving his game immensely from his freshman season and really took over the leadership role and shouldered a lot of the scoring load.

Who knows what would have happened to Mason if Jones and Okafor came to Lawrence. He may have stayed and backed up Jones at Kansas or he may have transferred and had his choice of plenty of pretty good schools, especially with him being a likely 4-year college player.

Man, what could have been. Who would have thought that two 18 year old’s decisions would have been so important? Kansas basketball fans can do nothing but dream about what could have been this year and look forward to next season’s team who will likely see it’s entire contributing team back other than projected lottery pick Kelly Oubre Jr.

Next: Jaylen Brown Might Be An Option For Kansas Jayhawks

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