Under the Radar

Wesley Johnson was a giant mystery coming into the Capital City Summer League. Nobody knew much about him. After being forced to take a year off from the game of basketball due to his prep school being shut down, Wesley spent the winter with his brother in Michigan honing his skills. He was in many ways a forgotten man as he slid right under the radar of most college coaches.

Luckily for Iowa State, assistant coach Jean Prioleau didn't forget. Thanks to his persistence, the Cyclones nabbed Johnson late in the recruiting game. And as far as early impressions can tell, Iowa State scored big-time.


Just from watching Johnson in warm-ups, it is easy to salivate about his potential. He dunks reverse tomahawks with little effort, shoots with great touch, and can even handle the basketball. Not to mention he is 6'7 with an ever bigger wingspan.


"He is a freakish athlete. Just an absolute freak," former UNI guard and current ISU grad assistant Erik Crawford said. 


Crawford would know. He is teamed with Johnson on their Gratias Construction roster, along with Jiri Hubalek. Crawford has also been on the front-end of several highlight-reel alley-oops to Johnson.


"Oh, I love the alley-oops. I love them. That's what I was known for in high school. Getting the crowd excited with the alley-oops," Johnson said.


But Wesley isn't all flash. He can do other things on the basketball floor.


"Wesley has really developed a lot in the last year. He's grown. He's played guard for most of his life and he grew into this 6'7 frame so he's got perimeter skills," Greg McDermott said in an interview with CN last month.


"I was named best defender in the Houston area my senior year. I like to defend and block shots," Johnson said.


He is also developing a nice arsenal of weapons on the offensive end, knocking down several mid-range and long-range jump shots during the summer league games.


"I've really been working on my shot. That's my biggest thing right now, working on my jump shot. And it's coming around," Johnson said.


It's hard to notice the jump shot when Johnson is electrifying the crowd with explosive dunks. On one occasion last week, he received a pass on a fast break, looked the defender off and threw down a vicious slam, jumping from 10 feet away from the rim. Sending the crowd into a "Did I just see that?" murmur.


Although Johnson loves to excite the crowd, he is looking forward to the season for a simpler reason.


"I'm excited to be in the Big 12, so my mom can see me play. Being from Texas we will get to travel down there a couple of times. So I'm very excited about getting to play there. I can't wait to play in the Big 12," Johnson said.


Along with adjusting to a big-time conference, he has to adapt to a new place of residence and the ever-changing climate.


"It's been different as far as the weather, the town is smaller than what I'm used to. But I'm mainly focused on basketball so I haven't really been able to interact with Ames, but it's been good," Johnson said.


One place Johnson will get to interact with often in Ames is Hilton Coliseum. Even though he has never experienced Hilton in person, he has become aware of the legendary Magic.


"I haven't seen it, but I've heard about it. I hear it gets real loud and crazy, so I'm pumped up about that," Johnson said.


For a guy who quietly slid under the radar, Johnson has made a very boisterous coming-out-party in West Des Moines at the Capital City League. If this summer is any indication, Wesley's high-flying game will definitely bring Hilton to a fever pitch come November. Throw in Rahshon Clark and Hilton may blow its top.


Just remember to bring the ear-plugs.  

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