"Syracuse is probably the leader," Barrett said. "He's always liked them and they've done a good job recruiting him. Of all the schools that are recruiting him, they've been the most active and seen the most games he's played in the past two years."
Today marks the first day college coaches are allowed to visit with prospects in their home, and Connecticut will do so this evening at 5:30. Syracuse assistant Joel Hopkins was also in Los Angeles on Thursday morning and visited Westchester High School to check on Johnson's transcripts and ACT scores. Johnson is scheduled to officially visit Louisville this weekend and will also trip to UCONN and Syracuse in coming weeks.
And though Syracuse has an edge currently, Louisville have several factors that presumably could work in their favor. One of Johnson's high school teammates, 6'9 Amir Johnson, has already verbally committed to U of L. Also, U of L assistant Reggie Theus has ties with Barrett and helped coach the So-Cal All-Stars a couple years back. Additionally, Louisville might have an ally in Johnson's mother.
"She likes Louisville because of Reggie Theus and Rick Pitino," Barrett said. "She's going to try and come to Louisville this weekend with Marcus but she's still trying to get a ticket."
Asked if there was any scenario under which Johnson would end his recruitment and commit to Louisville this weekend before taking his visits to UCONN and Syracuse, Barrett said, "He won't do that. He wants to see all the schools first and then evaluate his options before he makes a decision. I know he's going to like Louisville when he visits but he won't make a decision this soon."
Playing time and finding the right fit appear the most important factors in Johnson's decision and Syracuse appears to be the favored option on both fronts.
"He's looking for playing time early in his career," Barrett said. "Connecticut doesn't have any scholarships available unless someone transfers or goes pro early and I know Louisville has a lot of players committed already, too. But Syracuse has scholarships and playing time available."
Another factor weighing against both Louisville and Connecticut is their ability to recruit the nation's top players year in and year out.
"I think both Connectict and Louisville recruit at such an elite level that they might be able to recruit over him in the future," Barrett said. "And I don't think Syracuse will be able to do that."