High-scoring guard verbally commits to Stephen F. Austin

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With nine of the 15 players on the current Stephen F. Austin roster being either juniors (five) or seniors (four), the 2015 and 2016 recruiting classes will be important ones for head coach Brad Underwood and his staff. Saturday afternoon the Lumberjacks, who won 32 games and upset VCU in the NCAA tournament last season, landed their first commitment in the Class of 2015 in the form of 6-foot-3 guard Lasani Johnson.

News of Johnson’s commitment was reported by Eric Bossi of Rivals.com.

One of Johnson’s best attributes is his ability to put points on the board, as he averaged 28 points per game as a junior at Bishop Dunne HS in Dallas. For his efforts Johnson was named first team all-state by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches. Johnson’s improved his scoring in each of his three years at Bishop Dunne, averaging 14.8 points per contest as a freshman and 21.8 ppg as a sophomore.

Of course Lasani’s father, Larry Johnson, should be familiar to many basketball fans. The elder Johnson was a standout at Skyline HS in Dallas, and after two season at junior college he helped UNLV win a national title in 1990 and reach the Final Four the following year (he also enjoyed a lengthy professional career in the NBA).

In an article written by Matt Wixon of the Dallas Morning News, Lasani’s worked hard to improve his skills while also looking to create an identity for himself beyond simply being referred to as the son of a former athlete.

“If I was someone on the outside looking in,” Johnson said, “of course I’m going to be interested.”

Said his mother: “I don’t think he gets tired of it. But he wants his own identity. I think the only time it might upset him is if people say, ‘That’s why he’s good.’

“Because that’s not why he’s good. It’s because he’s working hard.”

And always pushing himself. Before Johnson, 17, was old enough to drive, he’d walk to the gym to shoot baskets — even when it was 100 degrees outside. Johnson also skipped the last two Bishop Dunne homecoming dances to work on his game.

Next year Lasani will join a backcourt that will lose just one senior in guard/forward Connor Brooks. Redshirt junior Thomas Walkup, junior college transfers Demetrious Floyd and Jared Johnson and junior Trey Pinkney will all have eligibility remaining, as will the six backcourt underclassmen (three freshmen and three sophomores) on this year’s roster.