Gary Johnson a hot prospect

This may sound familiar. A program has a stellar recruiting class in place and is just waiting on New Jersey forward Lance Thomas, while also putting a huge recruiting emphasis on 2007's Gary Johnson. While that sounds like Arizona, it is also true about Duke. Both schools want Thomas and both schools want Johnson.

Our friends at The Devils' Den caught up with the Houston forward.

"Right now I'm just enjoying the process, and I'm listening to everyone," says 6-foot-7; 215 pound power forward Gary Johnson. "But the schools I'm hearing from the most are Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky, UConn, Arizona, and Texas."

Still, it's early for Johnson, who is rated as a five star prospect by, and as the No. 18 overall player and sixth best power forward in what projects to be a strong class of 2007, and a decision isn't anywhere on the horizon.

"Right now I don't think I'll make a decision until around the beginning of my senior year. I want to take it all in and see what's out there from the different schools. There are a lot of things to think about, and unless I'm sure there's no point to narrow anything down so early."

A well thought out strategy for attacking the process, and one that is becoming common for many high major recruits. So when it comes time to start whittling the list down a bit, what's going to play a big role for him?

"Academics are going to be very important for me, and I want to go somewhere that will help me get a top education. On the court I'd like to pick a school that will give me a chance to come in and play early on. I don't need to start, but I want a chance to earn some time early."

Earning things the hard way isn't anything new for Johnson, and if you saw him on the court you'd understand why – just check out Scout's own Dave Telep's evaluation of the Houston prep standout:

"Johnson is an extremely powerful forward. He loves to rebound and do the dirty work inside. Beats guys with intensity, effort and hustle. Will need to develop offensive game but he's an elite athlete and forward prospect."

The lack of an elite offensive arsenal is a weakness acknowledged, but not accepted by Johnson.

"I'm working on improving my dribbling and shooting every day. When I'm on the court I'm out there to win and compete, but to take it to the next level I need to improve my skill set. I'm going to do that so I can hopefully make a case for the McDonalds Game next year."

Many coaches have come out to see him play and he looks forward to continuing the process.

"I can take some visits coming soon, and I may do that. I'm really looking forward that part of the process."

Johnson averaged 16 points and 12 boards as a freshman at Aldine and followed that up with a 23 point, 14 rebound sophomore campaign.

"He's so coachable and his work ethic is out of this world," Aldine coach Zeek Smith told TDD previously. "When I tell all the guys that practice is over, he wants to keep playing. He's just a coach's dream and a gym rat. He always keeps his composure and sets a great example as far as leadership is concerned," Smith added. "He's an inside guy right now, but we're trying to get him to where he'll be able to play some three."

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