School is about to be back in session for Sixers big man Jahlil Okafor.
Okafor left Duke University last year after his freshman season to enter the NBA. Next month, he will begin taking summer classes on campus to work toward the completion of his education.
Becoming an NBA player was a goal. Earning his college degree was a commitment. Okafor vowed to his late mother and other family members he would finish school if he made it to the pros. Now that he has his first season under his belt, he is following through on that promise.
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"Everybody in my family has a degree of some sort," Okafor said. "My dad has his Master's. My aunt, who's like my mom now, she has her Ph.D. It was always instilled in me - the importance of getting a degree."
Before Okafor returns to Durham, he will spend time in Philadelphia rehabbing his knee. He underwent an arthroscopic procedure on March 22 to repair a meniscus tear in his right knee. The timeframe to resume basketball activities was six weeks and both Okafor and head coach Brett Brown said Okafor is on track. He missed the final 23 games of the season because of injuries.
"I'm fine," Okafor said. "Everything's up to schedule."
Okafor won't be trading basketballs for books completely at Duke. He will spend time with head coach Mike Krzyzewski while following his training program.
"I'll be down there, [to] work out, get healthy of course, and be under the leadership of Coach K a little bit," Okafor said.
This season Okafor averaged 17.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 30.0 minutes over 53 games. He was the Sixers leading scorer by nearly three points per game. Among rookies, he ranked second in scoring and third in boards and minutes.
"My goal is to get better every day." he said. "I think I was able to accomplish that."
While Okafor will pursue his college education, he already received one in basketball this season.
"(I learned) just how much I love it," he said. "Especially being out for this short period of time, you just miss it so much."