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Illinois on Okafor's final list

Chicago Whitney Young High School center Jahlil Okafor, ESPN's No. 1-ranked junior, announced Wednesday a list of eight schools he's still considering in his recruitment.

Okafor tweeted that his final list of schools -- in alphabetical order -- consists of Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Illinois, Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan State and Ohio State.

The 6-foot-11, 270-pound Okafor averaged 21 points and nine rebounds during his junior season. He finished second to Simeon senior Jabari Parker, a Duke recruit, in the voting for Illinois' Mr. Basketball.

Illinois was a surprise to some to be included on Okafor's final list, but Mac Irvin Fire coach Mike Irvin, Okafor's club coach, said the Illini's status had improved in recent weeks.

"Jahlil went back to the drawing board, looked at his recruiting, talked to his dad and family," Irvin said. "After looking at everything, looking at the style of play, the great job coach [John] Groce has done at Illinois, he could see himself playing at Illinois.

"They definitely have a legitimate shot at getting him. Jahlil, he's really taking his recruiting seriously and has analyzed a few things in the past couple weeks. Every school on the list he's serious about going to."

Illinois is also recruiting Okafor's club teammate, Chicago Curie junior power forward Cliff Alexander, who is ranked No. 8 by ESPN. Irvin said Okafor and Alexander could end up together at Illinois.

"I could see that," Irvin said. "I could see them playing for the state school. I think they're the two best players in the country, period."

Okafor and Apple Valley (Minn.) point guard Tyus Jones, ESPN's No. 2-ranked senior, also have previously said they would like to play together in college. Jones' list of finalists includes Baylor, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, Minnesota and Ohio State.