Boo Feature: Gary Johnson

As one of the few established Duke targets at the 2006 Boo Williams Invitational, Gary Johnson's game and recruitment took center stage as TDD's Steven Clark took up the scout's seat in Friday Night's tilt between underrated BABC and traditional AAU power, the Houston Hoops.

Ornery. Websters Dictionary defines it as mean in disposition. You ask, is this an article on basketball, or are we doing a school lesson here? Well class is in session and Gary Johnson has come to teach.

For anybody who has seen or heard about the 6-foot-7 Texas power forward, you already know what I'm going to say.

Yes, he's one of the most ferocious competitors who has ever laced up a pair of sneakers. Yes, he plays as if his life depends on it. Yes, he thunders home dunks with an authority and tries to tear the rim off the backboard every time he goes up.

However, there was something different on display on Friday night, and that my friends was a deepened level of maturity which has taken root in both in Johnson both on and off the court.

Playing against an extremely motivated young stud big man in 2009's Alex Oriaki, Johnson was, quite frankly, having an off night for the first five minutes of the match up. However, then a sort of light seemed to go off and Johnson got mad. And that spelled trouble for the upstart freshman.

As the game went further, Gary and talented Houston sophomore WF/PF Tony Jones started an aerial assault on the rim that left onlookers with thoughts of, "DID YOU JUST SEE THAT?" One scout's take echoed this after a particularly ferocious dunk, "It's like he's on a mission from God to tear down that rim tonight!"

The highlight reel performance didn't phase Johnson though, for him it was just another night at the office.

"I just went out and tried to do what I could do to help the team win," he said. "I just played my game and I didn't get caught up in what other people were doing."

Johnson has always been on the Duke recruiting radar in the class of 2007, the only question has been to what degree. Throw in the oft-spoken whisper that strong connections to both the Arizona and Texas program will be nearly impossible for any other school to overcome, and many Blue Devil followers were unsure where Coach K's program stood with the talented big forward.

However, it would seem that while the fan base hasn't remained constant on Gary, the Duke coaches certainly have. In fact the Blue Devils have already earned a crucial portion of the recruiting battle.

"Oh yeah, Coach Wojo and Coach K have talked with me and I am planning to make an official visit to Duke sometime in the fall," Johnson offered in his post game conversation.

And regarding the rumors of Wildcat and Longhorn leads when it comes to earning a commitment? Not so fast.

"It bothers me sometimes, people who just assume they know what's going on. People can talk all they want, but I'm going to take a look at my options and Duke is an attractive option for me. I'm not sold to any one place."

"My thing is, I want to give a fair shot to schools that are willing to give me a fair shot to earn my spot. With Duke, I'm going to give them a fair shot and it's safe to say they are increasing their interest quite a bit. I'm going to hear what they have to say, because it's the right thing to do."


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