My favorite player in the Class of 2014 to watch on over the course of the summer was Stanley Johnson, a 6-foot-5 wing out of California that plays for the Oakland Soldiers.
Johnson is the No. 3 player in the class and is being courted by the likes of Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky and Florida. He’s a beast, there’s no two ways around it.
And while Johnson’s mixtape is entertaining enough, it’s just another example of why you can’t base your opinion of a player off of highlights. He reminds me a bit of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist — or Ron Artest — in the way that he plays. He’s as tough as they come on the court, and has the skill set and strength to play multiple positions. I asked one high-major coach what position they think Johnson fits best at the college level, and his answer was “junkyard dog”.
Two quick stories that should let you get a feel for what I mean:
– At the Nike Global Challenge in DC, Johnson’s USA West team was struggling to stop Brazil’s Danillo Siqueira, an athletic point guard that was getting to the rim at will during the first half. Johnson, unprompted, called for a switch and proceeded to lock Siqueira down. In the second half, Brazil started beating up on the West in the paint, so Johnson played center on the defensive end for the remainder of the game, controlling the glass and taking away Brazil’s advantage in the paint.
– On two different occasions, after a loss on the AAU circuit, Johnson blew off reporters (including myself) that were trying to land an interview. He’s competitive. Losing matters, even if it’s a pool game at an inconsequential AAU event.