Note: This is the fifth piece in a series of features making a case for each top prospect as the No. 1 pick. I've made the case for Karl-Anthony Towns, D'Angelo Russell, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Kristaps Porzingis. We close out the series today with Jahlil Okafor.
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- And the first ... shall be last.
For Jahlil Okafor's entire career, first is the only number that has ever mattered.
The No. 1 ranked player in his class four straight years in high school.
State champion in Illinois his senior season.
Gold medalist with Team USA in the 2012 FIBA Under-17 World Championships and again in 2013 in the FIBA Under-19 World Championships.
High school national player of the year by Parade, USA Today and McDonald's his senior season.
MVP at the McDonald's All-American and Jordan Brand Classic games.
ACC Player of the Year.
First-team All-American as a freshman.
National champion with the Duke Blue Devils in April.
But with 12 days remaining before the NBA draft, for the first time in his career, there is a dark cloud hanging over first. Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell have passed him on our Big Board. Okafor, the national champion. Okafor, the All-American. Okafor, the first in his class his entire career, is in an unusual position. For once, he has to convince the basketball experts that he's No. 1.
His case will be a simple one.
"I'm a winner," Okafor said when asked what he would say to the teams at the top of the draft about why he should be the No. 1 pick. "I've always been a winner. And I'm a great teammate."