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Rivals Crossover 2014: No. 1s Da'Shawn Hand vs. Jahlil Okafor

The Rivals Crossover Series is a weeklong look at some historic figures in football and basketball, merging our two sports into one storyline.

In this piece, national football recruiting director Mike Farrell and national basketball analyst Eric Bossi look at the No. 1 player from each sport and compare their national influence and success. Here we look at the class of 2014.


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The top 10 football-basketball combo schools

No. 1 vs. No. 1 (2003): LeBron James vs. Ernie Sims

No. 1 vs. No. 1 (2004): Dwight Howard vs. Adrian Peterson

No. 1 vs. No.1 (2005): Gerald Green vs. Derrick Williams

No. 1 vs. No. 1 (2006): Greg Oden vs. Percy Harvin

No. 1 vs. No. 1 (2007): Michael Beasley vs. Jimmy Clausen

No. 1 vs. No. 1 (2008): B.J. Mullens vs. Terrelle Pryor

No. 1 vs. No. 1 (2009): John Wall vs. Bryce Brown

No. 1 vs. No. 1 (2010): Josh Shelby vs. Ronald Powell

No. 1 vs. No. 1 (2011): Austin Rivers vs. Jadeveon Clowney

No. 1 vs. No. 1 (2012): Shabazz Muhammad vs. Dorial Green-Beckham

No. 1 vs. No. 1 (2013): Robert Nkemdiche vs. Andrew Wiggins

BASKETBALL: Jahlil Okafor

Bossi’s take: An old school, space-eating, back-to-the-basket big man, Okafor beat out point guard Emmanuel Mudiay for top honors in 2014. During one season at Duke he backed up the hype of his No. 1 ranking by wining ACC Player of the Year, being named first team All-American and helping the Blue Devils to the 2015 National Championship.

Taken No. 3 overall by Philadelphia in 2015, he made the NBA’s All-Rookie team after averaging 17.5 points and seven rebounds in his first year. Currently in New Orleans, he’s had to fight through injury and a game that has devalued the center position.


FOOTBALL: Da'Shawn Hand

Farrell’s take: Hand was in a battle with Myles Garrett for the No. 1 spot in the 2014 cycle and Garrett clearly should have been atop the rankings. Hand was an explosive defensive end in high school would could have played linebacker and ended up playing defensive tackle, but he never reached his full potential sitting behind guys like Jonathan Allen at Alabama. A fourth-round pick of the Lions, Hand got off to a nice start as a rookie with 27 tackles and three sacks, but last season he had elbow and ankle issues and it was a wash.


And the winner is ... Okafor and Hand were both winners at the college level and both got off to promising starts to their professional careers before being sidetracked by injuries. However, given his All-American status in college and having had a little more success in the professional ranks, we’ll give the slight edge to Okafor.