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Jahlil Okafor of Young slam dunks during the Chicago Elite Classic at the UIC Pavilion.
Jahlil Okafor of Young slam dunks during the Chicago Elite Classic at the UIC Pavilion.
Patrick Gleason/For the Sun-Times

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The top 10 Duke basketball recruits from Illinois

Ranking the college careers that Illinois high school products put together while playing at Duke. Where will DJ Steward land in a few years?

The commitment of Young’s DJ Steward to Duke this week continued a trend of top players from Illinois heading off to play for Duke and coach Mike Krzyzewski, the Blue Blood program built and led by all-time winningest coach in basketball.

For a large chunk of Krzyzewki’s career at Duke, he’s had an Illinois product on his roster.

Here are 10 players from Illinois, ranked by the college career they put together while playing at Duke.

Where will Steward ultimately land on this list a few years from now?

1. Jahlil Okafor, Young (Class of 2014)

Young’s Jahlil Okafor sits at the table with his father Chukwudi Okafor, and his aunt Dr. Chinyere Okafor Conley while he commits to Duke.
Young’s Jahlil Okafor sits at the table with his father Chukwudi Okafor, and his aunt Dr. Chinyere Okafor Conley while he commits to Duke.
Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times

Yes, he only played one season at Duke. However, it was quite a spectacular season which lands him in the top spot on this list.

Okafor was named the ACC Player of the Year, becoming the first freshman in conference history to ever win the award. In addition, he was a unanimous All-American and National Freshman of the Year after averaging 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds a game while shooting 66 percent from the field.

And, oh, he led Duke to a national championship before being selected No. 3 overall in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Okafor put together a stellar 2015-2016 rookie campaign where he averaged 17.5 points and seven rebounds a game. Last season, still just his fourth in the NBA, he averaged 8.2 points and 4.7 rebounds a game in 16 minutes for New Orleans.

2. Jon Scheyer, Glenbrook North (Class of 2006)

Associate head coach Chris Collins and Jon Scheyer celebrate after the Blue Devils defeat the Butler Bulldogs 61-59 in the 2010 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship game.
Associate head coach Chris Collins and Jon Scheyer celebrate after the Blue Devils defeat the Butler Bulldogs 61-59 in the 2010 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship game.
Getty Images

Remember the fierce Scheyer recruiting battle that took place between a red-hot Illinois program at the time and mighty Duke?

Following an iconic high school basketball career in Illinois, which included a state title and over 3,000 career points, Scheyer put together a terrific college career at Duke. There was a lot of winning and plenty of production during his time at Duke. His four-year career culminated with the Blue Devils winning a national championship in his senior year.

Scheyer, a two-year captain at Duke, made multiple All-American teams as a senior when he averaged 18.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 4.9 assists a game. He finished his Duke career with 2,077 points, 522 rebounds, 440 assists and making 297 three-pointers.

Scheyer is currently the associate head coach for Mike Krzyzewski and has been part of the Duke coaching staff for seven seasons.

3. Jabari Parker, Simeon (Class of 2013)

Jabari Parker announces his signing with Duke.
Jabari Parker announces his signing with Duke.
Sun-Times file photo

The one year Parker spent in Durham included outstanding freshman numbers: 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds a game. Parker, who was a consensus first-team All-American in his one year at Duke, set the program record for freshman scoring and became the first freshman to lead the team in scoring and rebounding.

But Parker’s one season at Duke also ended too quickly as the Blue Devils were stunned in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament by 14th seeded Mercer.

Parker was the second overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft and has career averages of 15.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists a game in his five injury-plagued seasons.

4. Phil Henderson, Crete-Monee (Class of 1986)

At one time Henderson was rumored to be leaving Duke and return home, transferring to Illinois. But he stayed and was a part of three Duke Final Four teams.

Henderson was the leading scorer and captain of the 1989-1990 team that lost to UNLV in national championship game. He averaged 18.5 points a game as a senior and finished his career with 1,397 points, 330 rebounds and 217 assists.

Sadly, Henderson passed away in 2013 at the young age of 44 in 2013 while running a basketball academy in the Philippines.

5. Chris Collins, Glenbrook North (Class of 1992)

Chris Collins at Duke.
Chris Collins at Duke.
Sun-Times file photo

The current Northwestern head coach only became a full-time starter at Duke during his senior season when he averaged 16.3 points and 4.6 assists a game. That season saw the Blue Devils finish just 18-13 on the year.

Collins, who spent 13 seasons as an assistant coach on Mike Krzyzewski’s staff before being hired at NU in 2013, finished his career with 1,091 points.

6. Corey Maggette, Fenwick (Class of 1998)

Fenwick’s Corey Maggette slam dunks against Maine West in a Class AA Quarterfinal game in Peoria.
Fenwick’s Corey Maggette slam dunks against Maine West in a Class AA Quarterfinal game in Peoria.
Sun-Times file photo

Another Illinois prospect who played just one season at Duke, surprisingly leaving after his freshman season after averaging just 10.6 points and 3.9 rebounds a game while playing only 17 minutes a game. At the time, very few Duke players had left the program early for the NBA.

Maggette did help Duke to a 37-2 record (16-0 in the ACC) and a Final Four appearance where the Blue Devils lost to UConn in the national title game.

After being selected No. 13 overall in the 1999 NBA Draft, Maggette put together a 14-year NBA career.

7. Sean Dockery, Julian (Class of 2002)

Sean Dockery goes up for two as Whitney Young’s Ronald Howard attempts to defend.
Sun-Times files

The McDonald’s All-American had a somewhat pedestrian career at Duke, sitting behind Chris Duhon early in his career. His best season came as a senior when he started 32 games and averaged 7.1 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists a game.

Dockery’s shining moment at Duke was a halfcourt, buzzer-beating shot he made at Cameron to beat Virginia Tech during his senior year.

Overall, Dockery’s career averages were 4.9 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists. During his four years at Duke the Blue Devils went a combined 116-23

8. Weldon Williams, Crete-Monee (Class of 1982)

When examined closely, Williams was part of a recruiting class in 1982 that has been billed as “The Class that Saved Coach K.” There has even been a feature-length documentary about the class on the ACC Network.

When the program was struggling, the Class of 1982, which featured Johnny Dawkins, Jay Bilas, Mark Alarie, David Henderson and Williams, helped lift Coach K’s program to new heights.

The career of Williams was easily forgotten, however, as the 6-6 forward never played more than six minutes a game at Duke. He scored 126 points in his four years at Duke, though the Blue Devils reached the NCAA title game his senior year, losing to Louisville in 1986.

9. Joe Cook, Lincoln (Class of 1987)

He played three years at Duke but ultimately left the program following his junior season. In those three years he played limited minutes, finishing his career scoring a total of 82 points in 48 games.

10. Michael Thompson, Providence (Class of 2002)

Providence’s Michael Thompson and Joliet Township’s Roger Powell, Jr. battle for position.
Providence’s Michael Thompson and Joliet Township’s Roger Powell, Jr. battle for position.
Sun-Times file photo

The 6-10 center was a McDonald’s All-American in 2002 but was never able to contribute at Duke, ultimately transferring at the midway point of his sophomore season. He played in a grand total of 19 games and scored 27 points in his Duke career.

After transferring back home to finish his career at Northwestern, Thompson was unable to make an impact in Evanston. Thompson played in only 16 games at Northwestern in two seasons.

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