Thursday, March 7, 2013

Okafor vs. Alexander: The Greatest Battle Between Chicago Big Men Ever!


Written by: Prospect-Central

For any historians of the game of basketball, I'm sure you're well aware of the type of talent to come out of the city of Chicago. While the Chi is indeed a hot spot for exceptional basketball players, the list of notable big men to come out of the city is not as long as one would think.

Despite his size, Jahlil Okafor is light on his feet
The legendary George Mikan is without question the pride and joy of Chicago big men, but during his era there were no other players to match his size, so he rarely was challenged. Kevin Garnett is obviously another name that comes to mind, but he's originally from South Carolina, and only spent one year playing high school ball in Chicago.

Anthony Davis has all the makings of an elite power forward-center, but he didn't blow up until his junior year of high school. Once again, there were no players in the city with his size and skill to challenge him at the time. Terry Cummings was an excellent big man from Chicago, but he was strictly a power forward, and wasn't as dominant as the other players on the defensive side of the ball.

Other Chicago big's that deserve a mention; Juwan Howard, Johnny "Red" Kerr, Nazr Mohammed, LaRue Martin, Thomas Hamilton, Sr., Leon Smith, and Mickey Johnson. I'll throw in Dan Issel, Kevin Duckworth, and Eddy Curry for good measure, even though they played their high school ball just outside the Chi.

So there you have it. These are the greatest big men to ever come out of the city of Chicago (imo). Not the most overwhelming list, but there's still some Hall-of-Famer's none the less. There were obviously more big's from the Chi to make it to the NBA, but they never had much success in the league. As good as all of these players were in high school however, they never had an adversary that could match their dominance. That's were Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander come in.

Jahlil Okafor & Cliff Alexander plan to make the city of Chicago proud
The consensus #1 player in the Class of 2014, Jahlil Okafor has been labeled Chicago's next great big man since the eighth grade. At 6-foot-10, 270 pounds, with skills for days, it's easy to see what all the fuss is about

Cliff Alexander on the other hand, is a top 10 player in the Class of 2014, and in my opinion somewhat underrated. At 6-foot-9, 240 pounds, Alexander doesn't have the size of Jahlil, but he just might be the most physical player in all of high school.

Today, March 7th, 2013, Jahlil Okafor & Whitney Young will square off against Cliff Alexander & Curie High School, in the semifinal of Chicago's Class 4A Argo Sectional. The winner of this historic battle will face Jabari Parker & Simeon Career Academy for the right to go down state. Considering the significance of the game between Whitney Young and Curie, I have to believe the match up between Okafor & Alexander will go down as the greatest battle between Chicago big men ever!

Even though the match up between Okafor & Alexander will be one for the ages, this is actually the second time they'll face each other. Last year at the Whitney Young Shootout, Alexander & Curie actually got the better of Okafor & Whitney Young, defeating the Dolphins 57-46.

Cliff Alexander takes intimidation to another level
Cliff finished the game with 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks, while Jahlil had 9 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks. You have to remember that both Okafor & Alexander were sophomores at the time, so they should put up even better numbers this time around.

It's hard not to consider Whitney Young the favorite going into the game. Not only has Whitney Young been one of the best teams in the country this season, Jahlil Okafor has been one of the best players in the nation. He was even named the 2012-13 Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year last month.

I would never underestimate Cliff Alexander & the Curie Condors however. As a whole, Curie might not be as talented as Whitney Young, but Cliff Alexander is just as dominant as Jahlil Okafor in my opinion. Regardless of the outcome, these two Chicago big men should have a number of battles as the years go by. The only difference is, it'll be in the NBA, not high school.

(03/07/13) Jahlil Okafor & Whitney Young vs. Cliff Alexander & Curie High School

(03/08/13) Jahlil Okafor & Whitney Young vs. Jabari Parker & Simeon Career Academy

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