NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — The No. 1 player in high school basketball is trying to figure out where and when to take his five official visits, but he’s also aiming for a quick end to his recruitment.
Chicago big man Jahlil Okafor said Thursday that next month’s trip to Baylor — with top point guard Tyus Jones — is the only official visit on his schedule.
Okafor narrowed his list to eight schools earlier this spring. UK joins Baylor, Arizona, Michigan State, Ohio State, Kansas, Illinois and Duke as the programs under consideration.
The 6-foot-11 center said he’s hoping to take all five official visits and see all eight schools on his list before his final decision, which he would like to make sooner rather than later.
“I don’t want to hold it out and wait until the end,” Okafor said. “I’m looking to sign sometime in the fall. That’s the plan, but we’ll see.”
Kentucky, Baylor and Kansas are the only three campuses he has never visited.
Okafor said UK’s coaching staff has been in regular contact throughout the spring and summer periods.
“I’ve been hearing from them a lot recently,” he said. “Coach Orlando (Antigua) and Coach (John) Calipari are just checking on me.”
Another constant on Okafor’s phone has been top-10 prospect Karl Towns, who is UK’s only commitment so far from the class of 2014.
“I’m really good friends with him,” Okafor said. “He texts me all the time. He’s really talkative, to say the least. He talks to me a lot about Kentucky and how much he loves it. How he thinks if we went there, we’d dominate.”
When the previous quote hit Twitter on Thursday, Towns immediately responded by tweeting that Okafor “is like my brother.”
Towns — a 7-footer from New Jersey — also is listed as a center. He has been billed as a Dirk Nowitzki-type player but looked more like a traditional big man during last month’s NBPA Top 100 Camp in Virginia.
Okafor and Towns joining forces would mean two big bodies in the paint, but Okafor doesn’t see that as a problem.
“I think Calipari could definitely work something out,” he said with a smile.