When the Duke Blue Devils take the floor on Friday as the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament's South Region, they will do so with a pair of talented freshmen who teamed up with a dream of winning a national championship.
A friendship forged four years ago as a talent-laden U.S. team demolished Argentina by 40 points to win the FIBA Under-16 Americas tournament played a key part in the decisions of standout freshmen Jahlil Okafor and Apple Valley's Tyus Jones attending Duke.
According to Yahoo Sports, because Jones and Okafor worked well together during practices and bonded quickly off the court, the duo became convinced that teaming up would give them their best chance to win a national championship in college.
"It started off with basketball, with us wanting to win a national title," Okafor told Yahoo. "He's a point guard, I'm a big man and we complemented each other really well when we were on the same page in practice. Then we also got extremely close off the floor and he became like my brother. I've always said if you take basketball out of the equation, I'd still want to go to college with Tyus."
Despite more than 400 miles separating them, Jones and Okafor remained in contact throughout the recruiting process. They talked frequently, eliminated schools that didn't fit the other's playing style and even committed to Duke together in November of 2013.
Jones is one of several Minnesotans participating in the tournament.
"I'm excited, it's something I've been dreaming about growing up as a basketball fan," said Jones during a press conference about the NCAA Tournament. "I can't wait to get to experience that moment and be a part of the tournament."
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As a No. 1 seed Duke has a favorable road to make a run in the tournament, but only March Madness stands in the way of Jones and Okafor completing their dream.