Bryan Penn-Johnson

adidas: 2018 center Bryan Penn-Johnson takes step forward as prospect at Gauntlet

EMERSON, Ga. - Bryan Penn-Johnson has long been a 2018 center with a lot of potential. On Saturday at the adidas Gauntlet, he proved he's making the leap from prospect to player.

For almost three years, it’s seemed like everything has been working against Bryan Penn-Johnson.

The 6-foot-11, 220-pound center from Henderson (Nev.) Colorado showed promise as a freshman on junior varsity at Las Vegas Desert Pines but he’s been a tough player to track ever since.

Penn-Johnson has bounced between AAU teams following sitting out his sophomore season after a patella tendon tear and he missed his junior season due to Nevada transfer rules.

He’s always had the size and length but the lack of experience, injury problems and instability have hurt Penn-Johnson’s production.

On Saturday at the adidas Gauntlet in Emerson (Ga.) playing with DreamVision, Penn-Johnson showed that while there may have been some bumps in the road in his past, the future remains bright.

Penn-Johnson has very good size, extremely long arms and he’s as mobile as he’s ever been. He can rebound, block shots, finish around the basket, face up a bit and passes well.

There was always upside but now it’s being realized.

“Last year I was having trouble moving because of the surgery but it’s been almost a year now and I’m feeling good,” Penn-Johnson said.

“I feel like I protect the paint a lot. My midrange is getting a lot better but my free throws need to improve. I want to keep working on fundamentals.”

The rising senior doesn’t see the time he’s missed on the court as a negative but a positive.

“I feel like sitting out has helped me because people see me and know I haven’t played varsity yet,” he said. “So the question is, “How good can I be?” It’s a challenge and I like the challenge.”

Colleges are noticing Penn-Johnson’s development. Purdue recently joined a list of offers that includes UNLV, Utah, Southern Utah, Nevada, UC Irvine and Tulane.

Of those schools, Penn-Johnson feels two have put the most work into his recruitment.

“I would say UNLV and Utah have been around the most,” he said. “I’m in UNLV’s backyard and I have a good connection with Utah’s coaches; they’ve been there since my freshman year.

“UNLV is local. It’s close to my family; they can come watch whenever they want since it’s down the street. With Utah, I just love the environment. Good coaches, good school and good city; it’s a great place to be.”

Penn-Johnson has a timetable for when he would like to make a decision.

“I’m wide open,” he said. “I’d like to make a decision after AAU season and before my senior year so I can focus on getting better for college.”

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