2016 four-star Jayce Johnson is one of SoCal's best kept big man secrets, but word is starting to get out about the 7-foot, 235-pounder out of San Juan Capistrano (Calif.) JSerra.
On Wednesday, California head coach Cuonzo Martin himself extended a scholarship offer to Johnson, following up offers from Arizona State, Boise State, Cal State Northridge, Portland and Utah.
"I was told to call Coach, so I called him, I was talking to him, and he was telling me about how nice the school is and everything, and we were talking about all the places to eat, because I love food, and at the end, when we were almost done talking, and he said, ‘We're going to offer you,'" Johnson said. "It was pretty cool."
One of Johnson's favorite pastimes, being a growing boy, is, of course, eating, and hearing about the eateries around Berkeley was an odd highlight of the conversation.
"I'm not trying to gain bad weight; I want to gain muscle weight. I'd say, I want to get to 245, like Dirk (Nowitzki). That's the guy I work off of," said Johnson. "I want to be a big man, but also be a shooter, too. I don't shoot a lot of three-pointers. I work mainly off the elbow, but I'm trying to come out more."
Right now, Johnson said, his happy zone is somewhere around 10-15 feet, and while he didn't talk in-depth with Martin about the offense the Bears will be running, he's going to ring up the Cal skipper again next week to talk turkey.
As far as what Johnson could bring to the Bears, last season he was a 58% shooter from the field, averaging 9.5 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. At the event where the Cal staff first noticed Johnson – the Jayhawk Invitational two weekends ago – our Rob Harrington gave this evaluation: "Let's be clear: There's nothing spectacular about Johnson. He lacks outstanding athleticism and hasn't score effectively while I've watched here at the Jayhawk. But he has a few things going for him, including the fact that he's huge and young. Those are two primary attributes in the eyes of coaches. Further, he carries a solidly built frame and doesn't shy away from contact and already sits down pretty well in the post. He has some length as well and utilizes his southpaw moves to put shots on the rim. Finishing remains a work in progress and so does defense — he's extremely vulnerable in pick and roll situations — but he has half of his prep career remaining to improve."
Johnson has a 4.0 GPA and said that academics will play at least some role in his decision.
"It's a backup plan, just in case," Johnson said of getting his degree. "I like my education, I like my basketball, my parents have always wanted me to get a degree from a good school, and they've always wanted me to push myself in basketball."
First Word From 2016 Center
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