The pipeline from the Oakland Soldiers AAU program to the Arizona Wildcats continues to gush talent.
Josiah Turner — OK, so that didn’t work out so well, but there’s not much argument with Nick Johnson, Brandon Ashley, Aaron Gordon … and, now, Stanley Johnson.
Johnson, a strong 6-6, 225-pound wing, committed to Arizona on Friday over Kentucky and USC on ESPNU, announcing his decision by holding up a pair of cardinal-and-navy Arizona-logo Jordan III sneakers. He gives coach Sean Miller the No. 2-rated player in the nation, according to 247Sports.
Johnson, in terms of ranking, versatility and temperament, is much like his good buddy, Gordon. Johnson, by the time he’s done at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., figures to rate among the very best players ever out of Orange County.
He was asked by ESPN about a productive summer in which his stock inched even higher.
“Man, I just got in the gym and worked out,” he said.
“I feel like I could do better and I felt like I wasn’t showing it. I had a teammate by the name of Aaron Gordon last year who played really hard. I feel like if I could get some of that in my game, I could be a lot better.
“A mixture of playing with Aaron and getting that dog in me, and working out and getting my skills refined got me bumped up.”
There was a funny moment when he was asked if he would try to convince Gordon to spend another season at Arizona.
“Nah, he’s probably long gone,” he said.
Johnson’s versatility is such that Mater Dei coach Gary McKnight insisted to the Los Angeles Times in late September that he wasn’t joking when he said Johnson would start at point guard for him this season.
“He is a different type of kid,” Oakland Soldiers coach Jules Milstead told TucsonCitizen.com’s Javier Morales during the summer. “I haven’t seen a kid like that with his motor, his basketball IQ, with his ability in the open floor, and with his body control.”
It’s another superb recruiting class for Miller, who has three top 50 high school players (or close, depending on which outfit is doing the rankings) and a top junior college guard in Kadeem Allen from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College.
“What put me over the top was just the way they recruited me since my freshman year,” Johnson said of Miller and his coaching staff. “Coach Miller has been great for me. Genuine. Honest.”
Arizona’s other two high school players in this class are 6-8 power forward Craig Victor (playing this season for Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev., after playing for New Orleans St. Augustine High) and 5-10 point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright of Los Angeles Loyola High School.
Johnson has helped Mater Dei win three consecutive state championships.
According to Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News:
“(Johnson) has been exceedingly well coached throughout his development, whether it was by the Soldiers staff, by Mater Dei legend Gary McKnight or even by his mother, Karen Taylor, a Jackson State Hall of Famer who played professionally in the U.S. and Europe.”
Arizona, which has had three consecutive top 5 recruiting classes according to Rivals.com, should be right back in that territory this season after all the commitments shake out. The Wildcats are still in the hunt for Justise Winslow, a 6-6 wing from Houston ranked No. 13 nationally by 247Sports.
Here are the individual national rankings from four major recruiting services on Arizona’s three high school recruits:
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