Tuesday, September 15, 2009

the recruit: James Johnson

Name: James Johnson
Position: PF
Hometown: Wildomar, CA
School: Elsinore
Height: 6'9"
Weight: 215

ESPN: 94; #17 PF; #69 overall
Rivals: four stars; #19 PF; #99 overall
Scout: four stars; #7 C; #31 overall

I got you now, Littlepage. I see your plan. We're going to sneak up on everyone. Nobody will be able to find us in the googlysearches. You hired a coach whose name is also that of a famous singer, and he runs out and gets himself a couple of recruits named Joe Harris and James Johnson. Fantastic players, but just try punching those names into a search engine and see what you find. Eight years from now we're gonna win a national championship and the whole roster will be named John Smith, and it'll be like it never happened because nobody will be able to Google it.

Anyway, Johnson. James Johnson reminds me of John Brandenburg, who I really wish would have panned out. Brandenburg was widely viewed as a project and was ranked largely on his upside and potential. Johnson seems similar. Like K.T. Harrell, Johnson didn't play high school ball last year, and before that, was living in that basketball hotbed, Alberta. Then he got to the summer circuit, and coaches went "whoa hey." Actually some of them went "whoa hey" before then, when "J.J. Dunks" made its way onto the YouTubes. (I recommend the video, but also recommend the mute function.)

So because of the whole Canada thing, and then the whole not playing ball thing, JJ Dunks was a little slow to show up on the radars of college coaches, which, yay, because that's the sort of recruit Tony Bennett has been snarfing up. Not to take away from the recruiting job, because Arizona was on him too, and when Arizona talks, recruits listen. 'Zona, and Cal by the way, makes this easily the highest-profile recruiting battle Bennett has won.

As for the skills - as I said, a little spit and polish will be required. It's always that way with bigs, though, at least the ones who aren't using your school as a rest stop on the NBA Turnpike. Actually, them too for the most part. Nary a scouting report on Johnson goes by without mentioning stuff he has to work on. And he'll get to work on them right there on the courts of the ACC - he and Will Regan will get thrown into the fire right away. By the time he gets here the only other players over 6'9" on the roster will be Will Sherrill and Assane Sene, only one of which is a functional ACC player. You can see why Bennett made it such a priority to go after Johnson.

I also hereby declare Tony Bennett The Man. Recruiting-wise, he has completely and totally blown away all expectations. You don't come in to a new school, recruit against Arizona, Cal, Alabama, Tennessee, Stanford, Maryland, etc. etc., and score a top-ten class. No, wagsters, not top-ten in the ACC.

- With Will Regan, Bennett jumped in representing a school that Regan had given up on and beat out half the East Coast for his services.
- Bennett convinced Joe Harris to follow him all the way out from the middle of Absolutely Nowhere, Washington.
- He then pounced on K.T. Harrell before he blew up in the eyes of the gurus and got him to commit to UVA sight unseen.
- Now he's gone toe-to-toe with Arizona and Cal and brought a monster West Coast recruit out East. How "monster"? He's not going to the McDonald's game, but he just might be talented enough to.

Whatever your expectations for Bennett's first recruiting class were, consider them smashed. I know it's not wise to be the fanboy that thinks we're going to win every championship of everything just because the new coach is all smiley and recruitey, but I can't help myself. The guy took basically mid-major talent, marched them into gyms all over the Pac-10, and flat beat 'em. Now he's blowing the doors off the recruiting trail: in five months he's put together a top ten class. FIVE MONTHS. Precisely two months from last Sunday, he'll unleash the most talented roster he's ever coached on the basketball world. Maybe it's no wonder he's doing so well recruiting; who wouldn't want to be a part of that kind of renaissance?


Anonymous said...

JJ is supposed to be almost "ready to play" offensively.....Brandenberg we knew was going to be a big project....JJ is ready to contribute in 2010

Anonymous said...

i am actually working james out right now when he isn't working out with his Elsinore high team and the kid is making alot of progress.

he has good footwork already, but now is learning when and where to use it.

i have been using my 6'11 frame and weight to push him around and he is getting used to playing stronger and using his jumping ability.

he is going to surprise a lot of people in virginia. he will be able to contribute right away. trust me.

dave vik

ps if anyone wants to see what he is looking like in workouts shoot me an e-mail to vikhoops@yahoo.com and i will send a link so you can see him.