Stanley Johnson: Senior Refresher

Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei is attempting to roll through California and capture a state championship, and Johnson is building a legendary portfolio in the process.

If recruitniks had been informed in the fall that one player would capture the hearts and imaginations of fans, Arizona signee Stanley Johnson would have been a popular guess.

Johnson always has stood out for his fearless, tenacious and unflappable style, and his abilities both tangible and intangible have played through his senior season. According to the L.A. Times, win or lose, "… Johnson is going down as one of the best players in Southern California prep basketball history."

When one ponders the talent that has spawned from the area, that statement carries enormous weight. Johnson also is a finalist for Naismith Player of the Year and was an easy call for the McDonald's All-American Game in April.

His exploits this season have included a 34-point explosion at the Nike Extravaganza that featured a 10-18 shooting performance, and that's just one example. He remains a power wing who utilizes his power and athleticism to brutalize defenses as he advances from this point on the mountain to the other.

Johnson's jump shot also has improved markedly. He demonstrated progress last summer, and now he has become a more consistent weapon from deep. Along with his ability to create for himself and his rugged work on the offensive glass, he's able to score at all levels on the court.

Defensively, he's a hard worker who can lock down finesse wings and also jumps passing lanes for steals. He boasts versatility that's off the charts, because he can defend nearly all wing forwards, some shooting guards and many power forwards. That may not hold in the NBA, but in college Sean Miller will have the option of utilizing him in numerous different capacities.

To make a run at the national freshman of the year, Johnson will have to prove that he can handle well enough in halfcourt settings to create for himself and become a primary scoring option. Either that, or truly stand out as a catch-and-shoot performer. He does so many things well, he's almost guaranteed to be a very effective player, but can he be super? First things first, he's trying to be punctuate a super senior year with a state title.

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