GARDEN GROVE, Calif. – It's been a long, busy summer for Jahlil Okafor.
The 6-foot-10, 275-pound rising junior center at Whitney Young (Chicago) has made stops in Minnesota, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia with his Mac Irvin Fire club team.
Okafor traveled from Colorado to the Canary Islands and eventually to Lithuania with USA Basketball's U17 team. He was in Las Vegas last week. The Chicago big man is wrapping it all up with his second trip to California this weekend at adidas Nations.
"It's been an amazing summer but it's been a long summer," Okafor said late Sunday night. "I'm ready to get home and get some rest."
All the travel and competition might be a little much to bear for the average teenager, but Okafor is getting plenty of good advice from someone who has traveled a similar path – and he is often compared to – in recent Boston Celtics first-round draft pick Jared Sullinger.
"He is like my big brother. He looks out for me and gives me advice," Okafor said. "He lets me know what to expect. Everything I'm going through he has already been through, so he helps me out a lot."
Sullinger's father, Satch, is on the coaching staff at adidas Nations and lit up when asked about Okafor.
"As soon as I saw him and saw him play, his body, even his looks, his footwork, reminds me so much of my son," said Satch, who has nicknamed Okafor "L.J." – as in Little Jared. "He might even be a little more athletic (than Jared) but he's not a fierce rebounder yet like Jared is."
The highlight of Okafor's summer trek came in Lithuania as he led the United States to the gold medal at the FIBA U17 World Championship. He earned MVP honors after posting 13.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game as the USA tore through the competition with an 8-0 record, thrashing opponents by an average margin of 39.9 points per game.
The best part of his trip to Lithuania?
"The best thing was just being at the hotel and being with my teammates like Tyus Jones."
"No cell phone. Yeah, it doesn't work over there."
Being on the move has left little time for Okafor to address his recruitment, which is shaping up as a battle between heavy hitters like Michigan State, North Carolina and Ohio State.
"I'm pretty much just taking my time with everything," said Okafor, who expects to take visits in January. "I'm pretty much hearing from everybody. I'll sit down with my family pretty soon and figure out where to visit."
As a former Ohio State Buckeye, Jared Sullinger has recruiting advice for Okafor, as well.
"They have a great relationship and stay in contact," Satch Sullinger said of his son and Okafor. "Ohio State is recruiting Okafor and Jared is trying to encourage him to go."
* The adidas Nations third-place and championship games will be televised nationally by CBS Sports Network beginning at 5 p.m. PT on Monday. The title tilt will feature USA 2013 Red (Jermaine Lawrence, Jarell Martin, Isaac Hamilton, Nigel Williams-Goss) taking on USA 2014 Red (Cliff Alexander, Emmanuel Mudiay, Rashad Vaughn, Noah Vonleh).
Mudiay deserves special mention for his play in leading the 2014 team to the finals. The
Grace Prep (Arlington, Texas)
2014 guard was in attack mode throughout the day and averaged nearly 20 points per game in two high-level contests.
* Dwight Howard made an appearance at the Next Level Sports Complex on Sunday. Howard marveled a bit at Class of 2016 7-footer Thon Maker and generously made the rounds with campers. No word on his trade status.
* Looking for the best dunker in the Class of 2013? UCLA commitment Zach LaVine of Bothell (Wash.) might be that guy. Sunday at Nations, LaVine shut down an impromptu dunk contest with an effortless between-the-legs slam. He did the same in June at the Pangos All-American Camp.
* The Hamilton brothers – Isaac and Daniel – were matched up against one another in an evening game. According to Daniel, it was just the second time they have been on opposite ends during a competitive contest. Isaac, a five-star 2013 guard, got the best of his younger brother Sunday, but Daniel was quick to point out that the series record stands at 1-1 after his team came out on top at the NBPA Camp earlier this summer.