Road Report: W-S Prep

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Reggie Johnson and Marcus Wright helped WSPA keep Patterson School's high school team at bay Friday night. Coach Andre Gould has a pair of players on his hands.

Some strange things happened Friday night at Winston-Salem Prep Academy. Between the liberal whistles for technical fouls and the ejection of Patterson High School's head coach with four seconds remaining, the scene was tense.

Through all the hoopla and confusion, WSPA prevailed in a spirited contest against Patterson's high school team 69-61.

WSPA, a relatively new school founded on the principles of computer magnate Bill Gates' research grants, has a pair of Division I prospects in the pipeline.

Point guard Marcus Wright and center Reggie Johnson are the headliners for a team building its history and its resume. Wright paced Winston-Salem Prep with 25 points and 7 boards. Meanwhile Johnson persevered through early foul trouble to turn in an 18-point, 12-rebound effort.

Through all the stoppages and strange whistles, Johnson kept his cool. In a "Big Baby"-like fashion he interacted with the refs and used his smile to diffuse a handful of stressful situations.

"It's a part of basketball," Johnson said. "The tensions are going to get high and people are going to want to fight but I'm glad we got the win. They came here and fought real hard."

Like Glen Davis, Johnson has an infectious smile and a commitment to conditioning that may in fact change his basketball future.

According to Andre Gould, Johnson's high school coach, the big fella is down 42 pounds from a year ago and committed to trimming 25 more off his 6-foot-8 plus frame.

"100% different from last year," Gould said. "He's getting in shape and he's losing weight. He loves the game. This is really only his second (organized) year of basketball. Pretty crazy."

Johnson gets excited when asked about his progress. "The biggest change is my will to work. Last year I kind of was not willing to work and get better. It's going to take for me to play on the next level to get to the NBA … that's if that can possibly happen. I have to work hard.

"I know the ACC and Big Ten are tough. Any conference is tough to play in and you have to work night in and night out."

These days Johnson might only be able to go full speed in 4-5 sprinting situations but he knows the deal. Progress takes time and he's pledged to making strides. From a basketball standpoint, his game is shaping up to where the high-majors will monitor his progress very closely and he's tracking that route.

"Believe that. I have to do AAU and I have to hit the track," Johnson said. "I'm making a commitment to running track and getting in shape for real. Conditioning is a big part of basketball and you've got to be in tip top shape."

Wake Forest, Fairfield, East Carolina, Virginia Tech, Miami, Xavier and Clemson have shown early interest. As the near 300-pounder loses inches from the waistline he'll win admirers from the college ranks.

WSPA's Wright Can Score
Ditto for Wright (pictured). A scoring guard who stands 6-feet tall, is transitioning to the point. He'll likely man the lead guard position collegiately where he'll bring a scorer's mentality to the position.

Friday night, Wright scored 25 points and had 7 rebounds on 9-for-23 from the field. The field goal percentage wasn't overwhelming but he made plays when Prep needed buckets badly. With Johnson saddled with foul trouble, Wright headed for the hoop.

"I think there's one or two games where he didn't shoot it quite as well but he'll then attack the basket," Gould said. Friday was one of those nights and Wright's toughness was key in the win.

Patterson was paced by recent Oklahoma State pledge Marshall Moses. He had 17 points (7-for-16) to go with 4 boards. Moses did the bulk of his heavy lifting in the second half.

There's something about the state of North Carolina and big fellas losing weight. Once Johnson loses 8 more pounds he'll join an exclusive group of bigs who shed 50. Eric Williams trimmed down before heading to Wake Forest and Oklahoma State's Mario Boggan completely reshaped his body prior to this season in Stillwater. …

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