Stanley Johnson Decision: Pros and Cons of Each Contender for 5-Star Recruit

Scott PolacekFeatured ColumnistNovember 13, 2013

Stanley Johnson Decision: Pros and Cons of Each Contender for 5-Star Recruit

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    The 2013-14 college basketball schedule may have just begun, but future seasons will be shaped by a number of recruiting decisions on Friday.

    One of those decisions will come from Stanley Johnson, who is rated as the No. 2 prospect in the country for the class of 2014 by 247Sports. Johnson is a versatile and athletic wing player who can slash into the lane with ease and is an effective passer.

    The California native will decide between Kentucky, Arizona and USC, all three of which he has officially visited. Read on to see some pros and cons for each possible destination.


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    The pros for Kentucky from an elite high school prospect’s viewpoint are fairly clear cut.

    If Johnson elected to join the Wildcats, he will join a loaded class that already includes pledges from Trey Lyles, Devin Booker, Karl Towns and Tyler Ulis. Johnson will immediately have an opportunity to compete for a national championship based on the talent coming in next year alone.

    Furthermore, Kentucky is always on the radar of NBA scouts. If Johnson thrives as a freshman in John Calipari’s system, he will have a legitimate opportunity to be an early pick in the NBA draft. 



    While all that talent is enticing, playing time and the chance to shine on an individual level are the only real downsides.

    Johnson would fit in as the small forward among the rest of Kentucky’s 2014 class, but what if some members of the loaded freshman class from this year stay in Lexington? There is a possibility that the Wildcats’ options at the wing/guard spots could include James Young, the Harrison brothers, Booker, Ulis and Johnson.

    If the ultimate goal for Johnson is the NBA as quick as possible, he may want to avoid getting lost in the talent shuffle in Lexington.


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    There are two clear-cut pros for Johnson if he chooses to go to Southern California.

    For one, he will be playing college basketball in his home state, which will allow family and friends to easily come see him play. Furthermore, much of the competition he will see in the Pac-12 will be familiar foes that he runs up against on the local AAU scene.

    The other obvious pro for Johnson if he chooses USC is the possibility that he will be the unquestioned alpha dog. The Trojans haven’t exactly been a basketball powerhouse recently, and Johnson would have an opportunity to be a superstar.

    With the ball in his hands so often, NBA scouts will be sure to notice if the production follows. Just ask O.J. Mayo. 



    If we are comparing Kentucky, Arizona and USC from a basketball standpoint, the immediate con for the Trojans is the fact that they don’t win as often as the other two competitors.

    If Johnson wants to win a championship at the college level, USC isn’t the place to go. Furthermore, if he isn’t an absolute star for the Trojans, he won’t land on as many national radars as he would at Kentucky or Arizona from an exposure standpoint.

    Those are two tough cons to overcome for new coach Andy Enfield.


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    Arizona presents Johnson with a best-of-both-worlds scenario when comparing it to Kentucky and USC.

    Kentucky gives Johnson a chance to win a championship, while USC is close to home and will allow his family and friends to see him play more frequently. Arizona combines these two by being fairly nearby and giving Johnson a chance to compete for a title.

    Sean Miller brought in a loaded recruiting class in 2013 and is working on yet another one for 2014. If Johnson is a part of it, the Wildcats could run rampant through the Pac-12.



    The fact that there aren’t any obvious cons for Arizona is probably a reason that the Wildcats are considered the slight favorites to land Johnson in some circles. 

    The only real concern for Johnson would be if Rondae Jefferson is still around next year. Jefferson has the chance to be a collegiate superstar and plays a similar spot on the floor as Johnson, which could cut into playing time next year.


    Follow and interact with college basketball writer Scott Polacek on Twitter @ScottPolacek.