By raising two red-and-blue University of Arizona sneakers, Stanley Johnson announced Friday that he’s headed to Tucson next fall.
Johnson, a 6-foot-6 forward from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, is ranked by Scout as the seventh-best prospect and second-best small forward in the 2014 class.
“Arizona is a great school overall,” Johnson said on national television in announcing his decision. “What put me over the top with them is the way they recruited me since my freshman year. Coach (Sean) Miller has been great for me — genuine, honest — and his coaching staff has been totally up front with me from the beginning.”
Johnson also mentioned the family feel he got during his visits to Arizona.
“They showed that the best,” he said.
Johnson, who picked Arizona over finalists Kentucky and USC, played on a summer league team with current Wildcats freshman Aaron Gordon. But when the ESPN hosts asked about the possibility of playing alongside Gordon in Tucson, he hesitated and said, “He’s long gone.”
It has long been speculated that Gordon, a McDonald’s All-American in high school and a preseason All-America pick as a freshman, will declare for the draft after the season, as most experts project him as a top-10 pick.
If that occurs, the athletic, physical and unselfish Johnson would be a heck of a replacement. Scout’s analysis of the rising senior’s game is as follows:
“With broad shoulders and the frame to carry all that muscle without sacrificing any flexibility, Johnson is among the most powerful wings in the country. He also has become very skilled. He’s a solid wing handler and a particularly gifted passer who loves to wear down defenses over time. After delivering a series of body blows on drives that result in buckets and fouls, he’ll burrow forward again only to slyly find a teammate for a bucket.”
Former Duke point guard and No. 2 overall draft pick Jason Williams, ESPN’s analyst during the announcement, said he was impressed by Johnson over the summer, both on and off the court. After a summer league game, Johnson went to Williams and asked for advice on how to get better.
“If that’s the kind of ambition he has, that’s the kind of player Sean Miller is getting,” Williams said.