Although some would say Stanley Johnson’s decision to enter the NBA Draft on Thursday was an easy one, the freshman forward says that is not the case.
“I put a hell of a lot of thought into coming back,” Johnson said. “The first week was like, the season is over, what’s going on? For me, it was ‘Let’s go. I want another shot at doing this.’ People were saying NBA Draft, but it was like we’re not done yet.
“It took a lot of thought, but at the end of the day you have to make the right decision. I put a lot of hard thought into it and I thought at the end of the day for me to do what I have to do, I thought this was the best decision.”
Johnson is aware that he entered college with the expectation he would leave for the NBA after one year, but he never bought into it.
“That’s everybody else saying stuff,” he said. “For me, it was about when I am ready. It could be next year, it could be this year. I just kept an open mind to it and when the time came to make a decision I had that in my mind as well.
“It’s been some pressure, but at the end of the day it is something I thought about every day and every night. It was all about making the right decision.
“Coach Miller told me to take my time and make the right decision. Probably the last couple of days was the point of time where I knew.”
Sean Miller is happy about Johnson’s decision, but admits there is an aspect of sadness as well.
“This is always a bittersweet moment for me and I think our program,” Miller said. “On one hand I think it is incredibly exciting to see a young guy like Stanley go from where he was when he came here to here we go entering the NBA Draft. I have no doubt he will be a high pick and go on and have a long career that we will all be proud of.
“The bittersweet part is that you’re not around these guys, in my opinion, long enough. You want to keep them and you get this relationship built almost before they show up here in recruiting and then they go to battle for you.
“It’s not easy to say goodbye to them, but I have no doubt, especially with the research that we did and Stanley’s family and our staff did, that he will enter the NBA at a time that is appropriate.”
Miller is confident that Johnson’s ability will translate well to the NBA.
“One of the things that Stanley did this year without a lot of people talking about is he shot about as many free-throws per game as any player in the country,” Miller said. “When you consider the minutes he played and competition he played against, there are a number of things that I think speak well for a guy’s future.
“If you look at a guy like James Harden, you look at his free-throw makes this year and it’s amazing. Stanley is that type of player and he can do it and will only get better at it as he gets older, smarter, and stronger.”
Johnson was recruited with the belief that Arizona is a Player’s Program and he got to experience that first hand.
“I think it means everything,” Johnson said. “You really begin to love what this program and school have to offer. That was the biggest thing for me.
“I really love this school and this city and this program and I know it was rough for me the first couple of weeks and maybe the first couple of months, but after I conformed to what was going on, you love everything that is going on.”