2014 Recruit Stanley Johnson Rises from Impressive Peach Jam Performance

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2014 Recruit Stanley Johnson Rises from Impressive Peach Jam Performance
Image via ESPN.com

Stanley Johnson is a 2014 small forward out of California. He's ranked No. 27 by ESPN.com's recruiting services and his recruitment is starting to pick up.

After his profound performance at the 2012 Nike Peach Jam, nothing less should be expected. 

Studs like Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon highlighted the event. Coaches and media flocked to their games and watched some of the best high-school basketball players in the country face off.

Johnson may not be in the group of names listed above, but he's closing the gap. While Gordon, his Oakland Soldiers teammate, was hampered by injury, Johnson answered the call and led the Soldiers to a tournament win over the CIA Bounce, Wiggins' squad from Canada.

What was impressive about Johnson's performance was that he played hard on both sides of the ball.

Some recruits will wallow in their consistency on the defensive side of the ball, but Johnson did not. He wound up leading the tournament in steals—19 in eight games. That average of 2.4 steals per game was the best among the players that made it past pool play (per NikeEYB.com).

Offensively, Johnson showcased his ability in the open court. The Oakland Soldiers are a pressing team, and Johnson thrived in that up-tempo environment.

He finished the event with the third-most points scored. Two 2014 studs—Wiggins and Tyus Jones—were the only players ahead of him. Johnson dropped 16.3 points per game, leading his team. 

Image via USAbasketball.com

That was on an Oakland Soldiers team full of Division I talent like Gordon, Jabari Bird and Kendall Smith.

But statistics weren't the only thing that impressed me about Stanley Johnson. I had the chance to interview him, post-Peach Jam, and he was nothing short of humble. I asked him what it was like teaming with Gordon, one of the top prospects in the 2013 class.

"Playing with guys like AG is great... he's an extreme athlete, great player and even better teammate and leader." 

It's clear that, despite his youth, Johnson knows how to fit with a team. He recently told ESPN in this interview that "I need to be that second or third option and be the glue guy" for the Oakland Soldiers.

But after Gordon's injury, Johnson had to be the top option. And he delivered.

During this summer, Johnson has won a gold medal with USA Basketball's U17 team and has led the Oakland Soldiers to a Peach Jam tournament victory. He may be proud of those accomplishments, but he knows there are still aspects of his game that need improving.

He gave me a laundry list of ways he could better his game, one that consisted of "jump shooting, ball handling, stamina and composure."

For a player that played more minutes than anyone at the Peach Jam, you would think stamina wouldn't be an issue. But arrogance is not in Johnson's nature. In the championship game, Johnson played 27 minutes and scored 15 points. 

Johnson's Ball Is Life mixtape.

He still needs to work on his jumper, evident in his 8-of-32 shooting from beyond the arc (NikeEYB.com). But his hustle on the court is undeniable, and he's already shown improvement in other areas of his game. And coaches are taking notice.

I asked him what he thought of the recruiting process so far. He described it as "hectic," but also said it was a "good problem" to have.

Schools from all over the country are seeing Johnson as a cornerstone of the future. He told Adam Zagoria that San Diego State was the first to offer. Since then, he's garnered interest from prestigious programs like Syracuse, UCLA, Kentucky and Florida. 

But he's not ready to trim the list quite yet. He told me he's looking for a school that is "right for me," and said he's not ready to name favorites.

Stanley Johnson will be courted by many top basketball teams in the coming months. He is a player that knows his role on a team and is capable of stepping up when needed. You'll be hearing more and more about Johnson as his high-school career progresses.

 

You can follow me on Twitter @MOvering

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