Incoming Arizona recruit Stanley Johnson has a list of accolades that trumps even what a lot of NBA All-Stars were able to accomplish in high school. Some of his top achievements include being named California’s Mr. Basketball, a McDonald’s All-American and the FIBA U-18 MVP. However, that just scratches the surface of the 18-year-old’s resume.
As a result, he’s labeled as one of the top prospects for the 2015 NBA Draft heading into the 2014-15 NCAA season, which will almost certainly be his only year in college. Yet, despite that stature, he’s not facing overwhelming expectations as an individual. Collectively, though, the expectations are as high as they can be.
“I have some lottery picks on my team, I think,” Johnson told Basketball Insiders. “They can carry the load just like I can carry the load. We can hit you from five, six or seven different ways. There are guys on our team who don’t get the credit they deserve. We have a legit 10 guys who can play basketball together. That makes our lives easy.
“It’s going to make my job really easy. They already told me what I’m going to do and where I’m going to play at. We’re already clicking as a team. I’ve played with a lot of these guys. Just like I respect them, they respect me in the same way so it’s going to be easy playing with these guys I think. One advantage we have is we’ve played together before. During the summer we’re working out together and we already trust each other, already have that chemistry. That’s going to be key for us.”
While winning four straight national championships at Mater Dei High School, Johnson was used at multiple positions. That’s something that will continue at Arizona as he’s equipped with the size at 6’7, strength at 238 lbs., athleticism and skill set to be just as versatile at the next level.
His incredible physical gifts are the first thing to jump off the page when watching him, which is why he draws a lot of comparisons to a young Ron Artest, but his basketball IQ is just as impressive.
“The thing that I like about him the most is he’s a smart player,” Arizona center Kaleb Tarczewski said. “The first day I played open gym with him, we were running side ball stuff; just his knowledge of the game, where to be and how to do things is unbelievable. I’ve never seen it in a freshman before. I think he’s going to be a really big key part of our team next year.”
“I think passing is one of those underrated things [in my game],” Johnson said. “I’m an overall team player. I think the game better than most people on the court. I think out there.”
Johnson’s understanding of the game has developed at a rapid rate for someone of his age partially because of the experience he has working with NBA players. He’s a frequent workout partner of Houston Rockets All-Star guard James Harden and in just this summer alone he’s gone head-to-head with LeBron James, Tracy McGrady and Arron Afflalo.
“I didn’t know who he was until yesterday but he was extremely competitive, very strong, he has a bright future,” Afflalo said. “He’s a good kid. He came up and spoke to me today. I’m happy for him.”
“I model my game after James Harden,” Johnson said. “I say that I’m a James Harden who plays defense, I always bug him about that. I’m trying to be a better shooter and I’ll get close to that.”
Within a year, Johnson will likely be a peer of Afflalo and Harden’s, not a pupil. That’s not distracting him from what’s most important in the short-term, though.
“It’s national championship or bust for us,” Johnson said. “In my head, that’s what it is for us. We fell short already as a team. The guys know what it feels like to lose in the Elite Eight. They were one step from getting there last year. They fell short. This year we reloaded, re-upped, there’s no excuse for not getting to the Final Four this year.
“I think I picked a great school that’s going to prepare me well. I just do my hardest in everything I do. That’s really easy for me. I think I’ve had a great summer so far, especially with getting in the weight room at Arizona. I think this year the biggest thing is going to be winning the games. For us it’s going to be so much fun, I’m only going to have one opportunity to win a national championship and the team we have this year is really talented. We want to get everything we can get.”
Kings, Knicks Agree to Deal: The Sacramento Kings today acquired forward-center Jeremy Tyler, guard Wayne Ellington and the unencumbered rights to the Knicks’ 2016 second-round draft selection from New York in exchange for forwards Quincy Acy and Travis Outlaw, it was announced by Kings General Manager Pete D’Alessandro.
“We want to thank Quincy and Travis for their contributions to the Kings organization,” said D’Alessandro. “We all wish them great success in their careers moving forward.”
Ellington has averaged 6.4 points (.418 FG%, .386 3pt%, .855 FT%), 1.8 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game in 312 career contests. The sharpshooter has been with Minnesota (2009-10 – 2011-12), Memphis (2012-13), Cleveland (2012-13), Dallas (2013-14) and New York in his five-year NBA career.
Tyler has accrued averages of 3.8 points (.446 FG%, .573 FT%) and 2.7 rebounds per contest in 80 career NBA games in three seasons with three teams – Golden State (2011-12 – 2012-13), Atlanta (2012-13) and New York (2013-14).
Outlaw has career averages of 8.5 points (.423 FG%, .337 3pt%, .744 FT%), 3.2 rebounds, 0.8 assists and 20.9 minutes per game in 622 career contests spanning 11 seasons with four teams – Trail Blazers (2003-04 – 2009-10), Clippers (2009-10), Nets (2010-11) and Kings (2011-12 – 2013-14).
Acy, acquired last season in a trade with Toronto, is averaging 3.1 points (.500 FG%, .294 3pt%, .725 FT%), 3.2 rebounds and 12.9 minutes per game in 92 career games in two seasons with Toronto and Sacramento.
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