One can look no further than the Windy City for the obvious consensus selections as the top two centers in the 2014 class nationally. The Chicago high school basketball ranks are blessed with two 6-9 behemoths, Jahlil Okafor of Whitney Young (IL) and Cliff Alexander of Curie (IL), who are shaping up as two outstanding low post prospects.
Okafor’s strong lower half, advanced post game and fundamentals have evoked the comparison of a slightly taller version of another recent precocious Midwest post, Jared Sullinger. Okafor has two summers of international competition under his belt playing for USA Basketball, anchoring the interior and playing well against some of the best fellow centers the world has to offer. It isn’t as if Okafor had to go that far for competition though, as Alexander is in his own backyard, with only about ten miles separating their respective high schools.
Alexander used June’s Pangos All-American camp as a coming out party, showcasing his impressive explosiveness on his well-built body with strength. It’s as if Alexander is just understanding his potential now, as his unique combination of size, strength and ability to move make him an almost uncoverable power forward, if he continues to develop other facets of his game. Until then, Alexander’s brute force inside makes him the No. 2 center in the 2014 class, just behind his Chicago neighbor.
Sitting out his sophomore season following a transfer from St. Patrick (NJ) to Montverde Academy (FL) didn’t seem to effect Dakari Johnson, who was impressive on the spring and early summer circuit. Johnson is a guy that knows he is just a shade under 7-feet tall, and maximizes his height advantage constantly. He improved enough to be selected to the USA Basketball 17U team, and was on track to finish strong until an injury sidelined him.
Mobile and agile Trayvon Reed is slender and coming into his own on the block as well. He arguably moves as well as any center in the class, and can get around the hardwood in a hurry. He is, however, more prone to disappearance for long stretches than those listed above him. Still, it’s easy to dream on Reed as a long-term new age big man as he defines his game. On the other hand, polish is exactly what Payton Dastrup is known for. He’s skilled and adept in the post, but can just as easily step out, extend the floor and hit shots at distance. His frame and movement is already more than adequate, and his versatility will give the program that lands him a head up going forward.
|1||Jahlil Okafor||6'-9"||255||Whitney Young (IL)||Mac Irvin Fire|
|2||Cliff Alexander||6'-9"||240||Curie (IL)||Team Rose|
|3||Dakari Johnson||6'-10"||240||Montverde Academy (FL)||E1T1|
|4||Trayvon Reed||7'-0"||215||Shiloh (GA)||Atlanta Xpress|
|5||Payton Dastrup||6'-9"||225||Mountain View (AZ)||Utah Select|
|6||Khadeem Lattin||6'-9"||190||Westbury Christian (TX)||Houston Hoops|
|7||Omar Sherman||6'-8"||240||Duncanville (TX)||Texas Select|
|8||Trey Thompson||6'-9"||215||Forest City (AR)||Arkansas Hawks|
|9||Quadri Moore||6'-8"||270||Linden (NJ)||Sports U/Team Izod|
|10||Elbert Robinson||6'-11"||260||Lakeview Centennial (TX)||LBA Seawolves|
|11||Andre Walker||6'-10"||210||Bullis School (MD)||DC Assault|
|12||Matt Cimino||6'-10"||225||Worcester Academy (MA)||Mass Rivals|
|13||Paschal Chukwu||7'-1"||215||Trinity Catholic (CT)||NY Lightning|
|14||Sean O'Mara||6'-10"||210||Benet Academy (IL)||IBA Muscle Milk|
|15||Jabari Craig||6'-10"||220||Fairmount (CA)||Northern Kings|
|16||Elston Jones||6'-10"||210||Millenium (AZ)||Compton Magic|
|17||Jalen Canty||6'-8"||240||St. Patrick (CA)||Oakland Soldiers|
|18||Johnathan Wilkins||6'-10"||215||La Lumiere School (IN)||Spiece Indy Heat|
|19||Jacob Hammond||6'-9"||230||Home School (OK)||Team Texas Titans|
|20||Brekkott Chapman||6'-9"||205||Roy (UT)||Utah Hoops|