By JOHN PAVIA
Special to ZAGSBLOG
NEW YORK — As many of the crucial players from top-tier schools have begun to make the decision whether to return to school or enter the NBA Draft, Stanley Johnson is busy prepping to contribute right away at Arizona next season.
After Wednesday’s practice for the Jordan Brand Classic, Johnson spoke to SNY.tv about how Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson departing from Arizona for the NBA Draft would affect the team for next year.
“That’s a really personal decision for them,” he said. “They feel like they can play in the NBA and they need to go ahead and do what they have to do. Obviously, I would love to play with both of them. They’re great players and if they came back to Arizona I would be extremely happy because I know we’d be that much better of a team. But that’s their deal, whatever happens, happens. If they go, if they stay, I’m happy for them either way because they worked really this season and they deserve it either way it goes.”
Stanley Johnson, who headlines a five-man recruiting class, offered some insight on how the team would do since the pair would not be returning to Arizona
“I think we’ll be fine regardless of what happens,” he said. “I think we recruited really well this year. I think we have really good pieces this year. With Nick and Aaron, we’re a lot better than we are without them. Without them, I think we’re still a really good team that can compete for a Final Four and and national championship.”
With Nick Johnson leaving, it opens up a shooting guard spot where Stanley should see a lot of time next season, but he also mentioned that it’s not a sure thing.
“That’s up to him [coach Sean Miller], I don’t know,” Johnson said. “You can’t call it too early.”
Stanley Johnson is the first-ranked small forward in ESPN’s Top 100 and the seventh-overall for his class.
Arizona is expected to return freshman wing Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, 7-foot sophomore Kaleb Tarczewski, sophomore forward Brandon Ashley and junior point guard T.J. McConnell.