By JEREMY WOO
Special to ZAGSBLOG
MINNEAPOLIS — Many call him the best player on the West Coast.
Over the weekend, the argument could have been made that Stanley Johnson was the best player in the gym, period.
The 6-foot-6, 200 pound man-child of a wing was the picture of consistency for the Oakland Soldiers at the Minneapolis EYBL session.
The Soldiers were without highly rated 2015 big man Ivan Rabb, but hardly missed a beat. Johnson led his squad to a 4-1 record on the weekend and sealed a berth in the Peach Jam in July, where they’ll defend their 2012 championship.Always a tough competitor, the rising senior gave a particularly gritty performance against The Family on Saturday morning, totaling 19 points and seven rebounds as he dominated the game’s final minutes. The Soldiers opted to spread the floor and let Johnson go to work at the top of the key.
“When I have someone bigger than me or smaller guarding me, I’m a matchup nightmare either in the post or at the top,” Johnson said. “They had to play zone the whole game—we played so small with me at the four that it was tough for them to stay in front of me on the perimeter.”
Johnson served ably as a playmaker, handling the ball and making all the critical decisions for the Soldiers in crunch time. He’s nearly impossible to stop off the bounce at the high school level, and though many tend to view him as a pure scorer, he showed a different side of his game at times over the weekend.
In April, Johnson narrowed his list of schools down to seven: Arizona, Duke, Florida, Kentucky, Oregon, UCLA and USC. Johnson was certain he would take unofficial visits to the SoCal schools due to their proximity, and said he would definitely take officials to the other five schools on his list come fall.
Another school that has come on strong of late is Kansas, who Johnson called the “wild card” in his recruitment. The Jayhawks have certainly captured his interest of late, as he told SNY.tv earlier this month. Though he isn’t planning on visiting yet, his developing relationship with them could shake things up down the road.
“I really like what Coach [Bill] Self said to me on the phone, I’ve talked to him a couple of times,” said Johnson. “The assistant coaches are really cool, they showed me how Ben McLemore was so effective in their system.
“They picked up another good wing in Andrew Wiggins, and I’m sure they’ll use him well,” he continued. “With Wayne Selden there and Brannen Greene, they’ll have a great team and I’m excited to hear about them.”
For now, Johnson is taking his time and enjoying the ride. Safe to say, coaches and fans will be on the edge of their seats until his eventual decision — but with typical West Coast cool, he’s not sweating it one bit.
“I’ll have a moment in June to go through the list and call coaches, talk to my parents,” said Johnson. “That’ll be a big month for me thinking about colleges. Otherwise, I’m just cruising along, hearing from coaches and taking it easy.”