Johnson on Coaching Changes

Stanley Johnson

Stanley Johnson is one of the most highly coveted players in the country. The five-star prospect is trying to narrow down his school list, but a couple coaching changes locally may prolong that...

Over the last year, there may not be another player nationally who has enjoyed the same amount of success as 6-foot-6, 220-pound Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei 2014 forward Stanley Johnson.

Since last summer, Johnson has won a gold medal and world championship with the USA Basketball 17U team, helped lead the Oakland Soldiers to a Peach Jam title and won a state championship with Mater Dei.

Johnson's work ethic and competitiveness have helped him make consistent progress as a player and this off-season he's planning on continuing to develop.

"I just want to keep getting a lot better and work on everything," Johnson said. "I want to become a better athlete and continue to get better as a shooter."

With Johnson's success on the court, he's been a major recruiting target for several schools, and currently has his list down to Arizona, Kentucky, Louisville, North Carolina State, Oregon, San Diego State, Syracuse, UCLA, UNLV and USC.

He was looking at cutting deown that list, but a couple of local changes will force him to do a bit more homework.

"I'm closer to narrowing it down than anything," Johnson said. "I basically cut it down already, but all the coaching changes happened so I hit the breaks a bit and waited for the changes to happen."

The main changes Johnson is looking at are Steve Alford replacing Ben Howland at UCLA and Andy Enfield taking over at USC.

Johnson hasn't yet talked to Alford - he says that UCLA's new coach has talked to Mater Dei head coach Gary McKnight - but he will head over to Westwood and meet with the new staff shortly.

"I don't know much about them but I heard (Alford) is a good coach and he's a good guy," Johnson said. "I'm going to go over there and sit down with them. I want my coach to go there with me and he's in Atlanta for the Final Four so the earliest would be Thursday and the latest would be early next week."

USC is expected to name San Diego State assistant Tony Bland to its staff shortly, a move that should help the Trojans.

"I talked to (Bland) a lot at San Diego State," Johnson said. "He did a great job and that was one of my top schools on my list. He knows a lot of people I call family really well. Having him there would be a big thing because I really like him."

Two other schools that Johnson is seriously considering, Arizona and Kentucky, remain in serious consideration.

"Arizona has done a really good job recruiting me since my freshman year," he said. "They're going to have a good chance because of coach (Sean) Miller.

"Kentucky has done a great job with its recruiting class and they're one of the most excited schools about me; they call me like every week. They've done a good job recruiting me."

The next step for Johnson in his recruitment is narrowing down his list, something he feels like he can accomplish soon.

"Like I told my coach last weekend, for me it's getting late," Johnson said. "I'm not one of those guys that's trying to prolong it and have a fake list with three schools I'm looking at and three that I'm not.

"I want to have my decision over with heading into the season so I can concentrate on basketball and know where I'm going. I really want to narrow my list down and focus on those schools because I have 10 schools on my list right now and it's kind of frustrating."

The plan for Johnson is to take his five official visits before committing.

"After I take my five visits, I'll make a decision after that," he said. "I'm just trying to figure out when I'll take my five visits.

"I really don't know where I'm going yet and I would love to know. If I can be committed by the fall, that would be nice. If I can't, I'll wait it out."


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