The possibility of a Tyus Jones-Jahlil Okafor package deal has been covered incessantly for months.
But there may be a new angle linking the five-star hoops recruits.
The only thing standing in the way of Jones and Apple Valley (Minn.)
hosting Okafor and Whitney Young (Chicago)
is a signed contract by ESPN. The sports giant would like to broadcast the game, which is planned for Dec. 12.
"We haven't gotten any contracts and ESPN hasn't totally confirmed," Apple Valley head coach Zach Goring said. "We think it's a done deal, but we don't have anything official."
Jones is the No. 5-ranked prospect in his class by 247Sports.com while Okafor is the top-rated center and No. 6 overall.
"I recently spoke with ESPN on a separate matter, but we did also discuss that the game was confirmed for Dec. 12," said Tyus' mom, Debbie Jones.
Along with having two of the best players in the country, Whitney Young and Apple Valley boast great programs. Both will likely be featured in MaxPreps.com's preseason Xcellent 25.
Whitney Young finished 2012-13 with a 27-4 record and was ranked No. 10 nationally to end the season. The Dolphins are on the short list of contenders for the preseason No. 1 ranking in November, a spot they held for several weeks last January. Apple Valley is coming off a 31-1 season and captured the Minnesota Class AAAA state championship.
In addition to being great basketball players, Okafor and Jones are best friends and have been very public about the idea of playing together in college. They took official visits to Baylor on Aug. 30 and are both headed to Kansas Oct. 18 and Duke Oct. 25.
"I think it is great for Tyus and Jahlil to get the opportunity to play against each other in a high school season," Debbie Jones said. "They do in AAU, but it's a different feel in the high school setting."
Lining up an Okafor-Jones matchup in high school didn't happen overnight.
"I talked to the Whitney Young coach (Tyrone Slaughter) a couple summers ago trying to put this together because Tyus and Jahlil are so close," Goring said. "So we've been talking about (Whitney Young) coming up and then all of a sudden ESPN got involved and then it had a lot more legs."
ESPN contacted Goring around January to discuss the idea. Initially, there was some talk the game could be played at the Target Center, which is home to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The NBA arena has a seating capacity of a little over 19,000. In comparison, Apple Valley's gymnasium has a seating capacity of just over 2,000.
"(ESPN) kind of asked us where we would prefer to have it, and we would prefer to have it at our school," Goring said. "I think ESPN coming to our school is a good thing for us and I think it loses a little bit when you bring it to Target Center. We wouldn't be able to fill Target Center. It would have a little bit of an empty feel there."
Representatives from ESPN visited Apple Valley High School last summer to check out the school's facilities and make sure space and lighting were adequate, Goring said.
If the game is played as expected, it would mark the first time ESPN has ever broadcast a regular season high school basketball game in Minnesota. Goring believes taking on a power like Whitney Young would be a great early-season test for his players.
"I'm excited to see where we're at. … It's fun to see where Minnesota basketball stacks up nationally," Goring said.