He stands at 6-foot-7, 245 pounds and has a frame comparable to LeBron James.
Stanley Johnson is Southern California’s latest basketball standout. For four years, he stood on top of the high school basketball landscape in California.
At Mater Dei, Johnson was not always the ball-dominant, physically imposing scorer he was in his final season. As a freshman, head coach Gary McKnight had Johnson coming off the bench for the first 18 games.
After he was given the starting job, he did a lot of the dirty work for the Monarchs, playing inside and rebounding on most nights.
It was not until his sophomore and junior seasons that Johnson really elevated his game and started becoming a legitimate threat from multiple spots on the floor.
Johnson has always been a talented basketball player, but his senior season was truly the culmination of a historic four-year run in high school basketball.
He is about to embark on a college journey under Sean Miller at Arizona and most feel that his stay will not long, as the NBA will come calling sooner than later.
NBA scouts have high praises for Johnson and one Eastern Conference scout feels Johnson will be one of the best available picks once he declares.“Jahlil Okafor, Karl Towns and Stanley Johnson have been the three freshman that have caught the attention of a lot of scouts and executives,” explained the scout. “Those three could be the top picks in the draft and you can’t go wrong picking any one of them.
“With Stanley, you get a Ron Artest feel, with a little more sanity. Artest made a great career for himself being a lockdown defender and a legitimate scoring option.
"Stanley has the body, the motor, the offensive upside and the defensive mind to become what Artest was and more.”
The former Mater Dei star has the tools to evolve into a big time scorer, but he isn’t the greatest jump shooter and another Eastern Conference scout feels that if Johnson added a three-point shot to his repertoire, he could truly maximize his potential.
“At the high school level, it was easy for Stanley to rise up and shoot over his defenders, there was not another player that had his physical gifts," the scout said. "The NBA is a different ball game; he will play against the greatest perimeter guards and forwards in the league."
Johnson’s game has been described as one of the more complete amongst his 2015 peers. One scout noted his “desire to be the best” as one of his greatest attributes.
“Throughout high school, Stanley was documented as winner, a player that will fight tooth and nail to secure a victory," the scout said. “Stanley will go at anyone, regardless of their reputation.
“The evidence was in July at LeBron’s skills camp. Granted, it was not an official NBA environment, but Johnson took it to the King and even gave him some trouble on the perimeter.
"He scored over James and even ripped the ball from him. That’s what’s so great about him, he has no fear. There aren’t many people that can challenge LeBron and give him some good run.”
After speaking with several scouts, it became clear that Johnson’s game is truly something to marvel at. Although he is considered a top player in college basketball and a future lottery pick, there is room for the 18-year old California prodigy to improve.
“He’s going to defend, Coach Miller will make sure of that,” added the scout. “The tough part about Stanley is getting him to play within the system. He was the man for the majority of his time in high school, everything ran through him. That won’t be the case at Arizona.
“This team is loaded with a lot of talent. Stanley won’t be the guy due to him playing with four other possible NBA players, but it could get to a point where he is called on to be a clutch shot maker or the go-to guy when their offense is stagnant.”
The same scout also feels that Johnson can tighten up a few areas of his game.
“He isn’t a perfect prospect, no one is, but there really aren’t a lot of glaring weaknesses in his game," he said.
“He can become a better shooter and work on his passing, but he is by no means bad in those two areas. It would also be nice to see him improve on creating different type of shots from the outside. He won’t be able to put his body into everyone on the next level.”
With everything taken into consideration, it would be a surprise if Johnson was still not highly regarded when he enters the Draft.
“Johnson will definitely be a top five pick, barring any setbacks,” one scout said. "He has the talent and physical tools to make a great pro.
“I’d love to draft a player like Stanley and if he falls to us it will be taken into heavy consideration,” added another. “The only way he will fall out of the top five is if he has a bad season or a major setback.”