2012 Marlon Johnson Exploding On Scene

Every once in a while, a prospect will have a huge tournament and blow up locally and nationally. Last year, it was Anthony Davis, who skyrocketed to #1 in the country. Perhaps the 2012 version in Illinois will be Marlon Johnson from Joliet West High School. He took the Best Buy Classic by storm, and a week later he was on the Illinois campus.

Marlon Johnson is a 6'-9"forward who is athletic and explosive. He is a highlight reel in transition and can be a game changer on the defensive end with his shot blocking ability. The next step in his development is to continue adding skill to his game.

Illinois certainly heard the buzz from Deerfield, asking the rising senior to visit Champaign last weekend.

"We went to coach (Jay) Price's office and talked about what we would be doing on the visit. Then we walked around campus and saw the arena. After that, I scrimmaged against their players and other recruits."

This is all new to Johnson.

"I was just really excited to visit the campus."

He was impressed with the quality of play during the scrimmages.

"They were good players. It was a fast-paced game, and everybody could shoot."

Price has taken the lead on Johnson, who says the assistant coach is very impressed with what Johnson has to offer.

"He was telling me he was glad I came down, and hopefully he will see me again. He told me to keep playing hard and that he thought I had the potential to play in the Big 10."

Overall, it was a great experience for Johnson.

"It is a really big campus, and I like the players."

Johnson had a huge growth spurt, shooting up 6 inches in a short period of time. He is still learning to be a big man, but had his coming-out party in front of a slew of scouts and several members of Scout.com at the Best Buy Classic. Did he realize the buzz he was creating while on the court in Deerfield?

"I realized it when I read all the articles from the Best Buy Classic. It was really good. I liked it!"

He talked about his experience this spring playing on the AAU circuit with the Illinois T-Wolves.

"It has been going really good. We have a real good team. I think I have played really good this spring. I am leading the team more now."

The athletic power forward talked about the strengths in his game.

"I play defense, block and alter shots, and am a rebounder."

After his breakout performance, he started to hear from several schools including Illinois, Tennessee, DePaul, and Ohio. The first time he heard from the Illinois coaching staff was this past Wednesday, and he was on campus just days later.

It has been quite a whirlwind for Johnson, but he is in no hurry to make a decision. He will wait until the end of his high school season to make up his mind on where he will attend college. It's a safe bet his list will continue to grow in the coming months. What will he be looking for in the college he ultimately chooses?

"A school that likes to win, has swagger, and has a coach that likes to have fun."

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