While he took some time to evaluate his options, Arizona freshman forward Stanley Johnson has decided to enter the 2015 NBA Draft. Johnson announced his decision to forego his final three seasons of eligibility Thursday evening at a press conference held with Arizona head coach Sean Miller.
Named the Pac-12’s top rookie and also a first team all-conference selection, Johnson averaged a team-best 13.8 points per game in 2014-15 while also accounting for 6.5 rebounds. The 6-foot-7 Fullerton, California product, who’s projected to be a lottery pick in the June draft, shot 44.6 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Johnson’s departure is one that the Wildcats planned for recruiting-wise, as their incoming freshman class has multiple perimeter players capable of putting points on the board. Findlay Prep product Allonzo Trier is the most highly regarded of the group, but Las Vegas native Ray Smith (who missed his senior season with a torn ACL) will also be heard from on the wing and combo guard Justin Simon can play either on or off the ball.
Arizona also returns multiple perimeter players (not counting point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright) from last season’s Elite Eight team, with Gabe York and Elliott Pitts being the most experienced and junior college transfer Kadeem Allen available after redshirting last season.
Losing a player as talented as Johnson hurts, but Arizona’s worked hard to ensure that they have the pieces needed to account for this news. Next up for them is an official declaration from center Kaleb Tarczewski, whom many believe will return to Tucson for his senior season.