Johnson has early leader

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Justin Johnson, a 2014 prospect, made his return to the court last week at the Republic Bank Holiday Classic. He's lighter, more mobile and more athletic.

Justin Johnson is happy to be back on the court.

After sitting out the first part of the high school season due to a transfer to Hazard (Ky.) Perry County Central, Johnson hit the court for the first time on Saturday with his team.

"It was actually a big excitement to be back on the court with new teammates," Johnson told "I got to play some with them. I had a little bit of a feel for them."

"I think it took us a couple of games and we finally got it together and played more as a team," he said. "I really enjoy playing with these guys and I'm excited to be back on the court and playing basketball."

Although Johnson's squad struggled some in the event, Johnson managed to impress with his frame, mobility and improved athleticism.

"I came in at Perry County Central weighing about 240 and now I've cut down to about 230," he said. "I'm a lot stronger and my vertical has gone up three or four inches. I'm jumping a lot better and I feel more athletic and I'm running better."

Although a tad undersized at 6-foot-6, maybe 6-7, Johnson brings it on the court with his effort and energy. He rebounds his area well and can score from mid-range and in.

On the recruiting front, Johnson currently has scholarship offers from WKU, EKU, Southern Miss, Winthrop, Morehead State, Belmont, Lipscomb, Northern Kentucky, Indiana State and Murray State.

Wright State, Tennessee and USC Upstate are also showing interest. Among the schools Johnson has already visited are Tennessee, Western Kentucky, Indiana State and Butler.

Thus far, Western Kentucky is Johnson's early leader.

"That's my leader right now," he said. "Them, Southern Mississippi, Murray State and Morehead State are doing a really good job."

Johnson visited Western Kentucky at the beginning of the season for their midnight madness festivities.

"I went to WKU for their Hilltopper Hysteria for their midnight madness," he said. That was great. They had a really good crowd."

What sticks out about the Hilltoppers?

"To tell you the truth, they have a guy George Fant, who plays the four there," he said. "He's about 6-6 and I'm just an inch taller than him at 6-7. Coach Harper runs a really good system for him, as an undersized power forward. He does a really good job with it."

"He was the freshman Sun Belt Player of the Year," he added. "They do a really good job with recruiting. They've talked to my family and it's one of the best mid-major programs in the nation as far as winning percentages and winning."

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