The Rebels’ 2014 recruiting class has a chance to be special. The program is in on several elite high school prospects, and California swingman Stanley Johnson may be the most intriguing of them all.
Johnson is a junior at Mater Dei, the alma mater of current UNLV sharpshooter Katin Reinhardt. And in the summers, Johnson plays his AAU ball for the Oakland Soldiers, the same team as recent UNLV commit Kendall Smith. So you can see why the Rebels are hopeful they can get Johnson on board.
And a commitment from Johnson would be a huge score. The 6-foot-6, 232-pounder is precisely the kind of skilled open-court athlete who would thrive in Dave Rice’s up-tempo attack. Johnson is averaging 19.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 2.2 assists per game, and his highlight video shows how effective he can be on the break.
He’s currently No. 14 in the Rivals Class of 2014 rankings, and the Rebels have a lot of competition for his services. Johnson recently listed UNLV, San Diego State, Kentucky, Arizona, Louisville, Oregon, NC State, USC, Syracuse and UCLA as his top 10.
I recently caught up with Johnson to talk about recruiting, UNLV, and his old friend from Mater Dei.
Recruit Q&A with Stanley Johnson
RunRebs: How would you describe yourself as a player?
Stanley Johnson: I’d describe myself as a versatile player. I’d say I’m a really tough wing that does a lot of everything, plays extremely hard and shows effort on every play. I think I’m pretty good at everything.
RunRebs: What’s been the biggest improvement in your game since the start of the season?
Stanley Johnson: I think the biggest improvement has been my jump shot. Also my stamina and just my overall athletic ability, but first I’d say my jump shot.
RunRebs: You played more of a supporting role last year, while Katin Reinhardt was the No. 1 option for Mater Dei. How have you adjusted to being the focal point of the offense this season?
Stanley Johnson: Having Katin on the team, and just having an excellent team in general, I could probably get away with taking plays off. I could just give Katin the ball and let him go make plays. So the offseason was big for me. Playing with the Oakland Soldiers, I had a big scoring role for them, and that got me ready for the high school season. Last year, if I didn’t score, it was just a bad game for me, but we’d probably still win anyway. That’s not the case this year. Now if I don’t score, it’s tough for us to win. So that’s the mindset I play with.
RunRebs: Where does your offense come from?
Stanley Johnson: I like scoring from the wing. I get a lot of touches and a lot of looks on the wing at the beginning of the game. Toward the end of games, teams like to double team more and bring more people at me, so I might move 15 feet out, extended post, and make a quick, one-dribble move to get into the lane. I think that’s my favorite spot right now.
RunRebs: What aspect of your game do you want to improve before you get to college?
Stanley Johnson: I just want to get really skilled, refine all the little areas that people might not even notice. Those little things might not get noticed in high school, but they’re very important at the next level. I also want to get more athletic. Then I think I’ll really be set.
RunRebs: You recently cut your list down to 10 schools. How far along in the process are you?
Stanley Johnson: I’ve visited most of the schools in the west unofficially, and I’ve talked to the head coaches at all of the schools on the list. I’ve had good conversations with all of them, and right now I can honestly envision myself playing at any of them. I feel like I have a strong relationship with all 10 of the schools. They’re all even as of now.
RunRebs: Do you have any visits planned for the near future?
Stanley Johnson: Right now I’m just focused on finishing our season with a bang. We have our CIF playoffs and the state championship coming up soon, so I will not be focusing on any recruiting until after we win state.
RunRebs: What’s your opinion of UNLV?
Stanley Johnson: I know the program is up and coming, and it looks like they have a good future with a lot of good recruits coming in, both from this year and next year. And with Katin being there, he’s one of my good buddies, so he let’s me know how good the program is. Coach Rice is a good coach, and we’re in constant contact.
RunRebs: What’s most attractive about UNLV?
Stanley Johnson: I like how they run their offense, how they run the floor and let their players play. Like I know they let their 4-man go out and shoot threes and run the floor and handle the ball. That’s attractive to me.
RunRebs: How do you see yourself potentially fitting into that system?
Stanley Johnson: I’m the kind of guy who can play the 3, 4, even some 2. I can play the perimeter, in the post, out on the wing, so it’s nice to be in a system where you have the freedom to do that. It’s nice to be able to make a move on the perimeter to get past your guy, and the coach doesn’t pull you out because he doesn’t want you to dribble.
RunRebs: Have you gotten a recruiting pitch from Katin Reinhardt?
Stanley Johnson: Me and Katin are friends outside of basketball, so regardless of where I end up, we’ll still be friends. Me and Katin, we’ve talked about it, but he’s not trying to recruit me or anything. But just going by what he says and what he tells me about the program, I can tell he enjoys himself and he really likes it there.
RunRebs: What’s your timetable for taking official visits?
Stanley Johnson: I’ll probably take visits in the fall after AAU season. That’s probably the time when I’ll really have to get serious about everything.
RunRebs: Do you want to make a decision before the start of your senior season?
Stanley Johnson: That’s the plan for me. That would be great, if I can sign early. But if not, I’m won’t force it or rush anything. It’s not a problem, I have no shame about waiting until the spring to sign. I feel if a school really wants me, they’ll understand that I want to make the decision that’s best for me.
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