Earlier Sunday, USA Basketball announced the members of the Under-18 national team, with the group led by Florida head coach Billy Donovan and assistants Sean Miller (Arizona) and Ed Cooley (Providence) now preparing for the FIBA Americas Championships to be played next month. One of the players on the roster is 6-foot-6 guard Stanley Johnson, one of the nation’s best recruits who will play his college basketball next season.
Possessing a skill set that allows him to impact the game in a variety of ways, Johnson is a player seen by many as one who will have an immediate impact next season. And while the time with USA Basketball this summer will certainly help matters, his senior season at Mater Dei HS in southern California has also set the stage.
In a story written by Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star, Miller touched on the strides Johnson has made as a result of his having to play some point guard at Mater Dei this past season.
“I think Stanley is a very underappreciated ballhandler and passer,” Miller said. “He’s played against every player you can possibly imagine, and one of the things that’s really developed is his ability to handle the ball and pass.
“For somebody of that size, it’s quite a difference. … He has one of those bodies not everyone has.”
Obviously Arizona has its starting point guard, with T.J. McConnell returning for his senior season, but it never hurts to have more than one playmaker on the perimeter. Johnson can play that role, and it’s an important one with the Wildcats needing to account for the early departure of Pac-12 Player of the Year Nick Johnson.
Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon are certainly noteworthy losses for Arizona, which fell a couple points short of its first Final Four appearance since 2001 in an Elite Eight loss to Wisconsin. Yet expectations remain high in Tucson due to the return of every other key contributor, and the addition of a talented crop of newcomers led by Stanley Johnson.
Stanley will have every opportunity to be a major factor for the Wildcats when he arrives on campus, and based upon the reviews from Colorado Springs it sounds as if he’s well on his way to making sure he’s ready to take advantage this winter.