Sam Webb: Did you feel like coming into the summer – I know I feel like that, coming from Michigan – do you feel like you were under the radar, like people were sleeping on you a little bit?
Jaylen Johnson: “Yeah, I was ranked in the nation, but they had me at 97, and I know I’m better than most people, so I’m getting in the gym with (Ypsilanti high) Coach Brooks 24/7, work hard, so I can prove it, and this is the opportunity.”
Sam Webb: For people who haven’t seen you play, talk about your game. And then one of the things I’m really interested in is where your game has grown, say, just this summer. Where have you really taken your game to the next level?
Jaylen Johnson: “I think I’ve grown mentally. I’ve matured a lot. Like, usually I make a dime to get the oohs and aahs, but when I see you I make a dime so you can score and we can get up. I get lower on my dribble now so it’s easier to blow by people. I usually blow by big men and I can blow by guards too. Working on my shot.”
Sam Webb: Yeah, I saw you, you missed a free throw, you followed it, no look pass; that’s the kind of thing that you bring to the table, right?
Jaylen Johnson: “Yeah, I like getting my team on. If I’m eating then everybody’s going to eat.”
Sam Webb: Do you feel like when you come to camps like this, that you can really outwork guys? It really seems like from an effort standpoint, you bring more effort than most of the guys you face.
Jaylen Johnson: “Yeah, because you know, where I’m from, like Coach Brooks, all he teaches is intensity, running, speed, endurance, and having a good motor, so I’m used to like – I’m trained, I’m trained to keep running and not quit.”
Sam Webb: Let’s talk about your recruitment. I know things have been blowing up from that standpoint, so just give me your last few offers. Who are the latest teams to offer you?
Sam Webb: So what did it feel like to get that in-state offer from Michigan State. Did it feel a little different than all the rest of them?
Jaylen Johnson: “Well, yeah, because I’ve been waiting for that offer since like – not particularly Michigan State, but an in-state offer, because at first I was like ‘I’m trying to work, and I’m not getting any looks’, like in the state. I was getting all the looks out of state, so when I got it I was excited, like they’re finally seeing what I can do. “
Sam Webb: Where is Michigan State at on your list right now? Are they number one? Are they high? Where would you put them?
Jaylen Johnson: “I mean, I don’t really have a particular order, because I still have to weigh my options in July, but they’re on my mind.”
Sam Webb: You mentioned you were looking for just one in-state offer. I know when we last talked, you said you had been hearing from Michigan. Are they still showing you any attention?
Jaylen Johnson: “They talk to me so-so. I know they still like me. They still call Coach Brooks, they still want me to come – they want to see me first. They haven’t really seen me.”
Sam Webb: Give me an idea of – you said you’re going to be narrowing it down here – what, in July is when you’re going to narrow it down, this month?
Jaylen Johnson: “Yes.”
Sam Webb: How many are you going to narrow it down to?
Jaylen Johnson: “A good five.”
Sam Webb: What are going to be the factors in that? What are going to be the things that set five schools apart from the rest?
Jaylen Johnson: “A school that’s not in it for the politics. A school that will (cater) to my game, where I can dribble and not just want to put me post shooting. A good team. You always have to like your team. Then a good coach, and good surroundings.”
Sam Webb: Give me an example, not to say that this team would be your favorite, or that team would be your favorite, but give me an example of a system that a specific team runs that you feel like you could thrive in?
Jaylen Johnson: “I think my game would fit in at like Louisville or Indiana, because if they know you have the potential to do it, they know you can dribble, they’re going to let you go, and they’re not going to hold you back. I’m not saying that other schools don’t, it’s just I watched them a lot. “
Sam Webb: Once you narrow it down to five, then what does your timeline look like for making a decision?
Jaylen Johnson: “I’ll take my visits, and when I take my visits, I’m going to be making a list, and whatever list looks better, and fits me and my personality, I’m going to take it.”
Sam Webb: You’re going to take all five official visits?
Jaylen Johnson: “Uh-huh.”
Sam Webb: I see your mom at all your games. Everywhere we go this summer, I see your mom, so is distance from mom going to be a factor in your decision?
Jaylen Johnson: “No, it doesn’t really matter how far. As long as I can get to the League, or graduate, I don’t care – as long as I go D-1, I want to go D-1, to a school that’s going to develop me more, it doesn’t matter how close to home or how far away. It doesn’t really matter to me.”
Sam Webb: So you’ll go anywhere?
Jaylen Johnson: “Yeah, as long as I know for a fact, and I feel in my heart that the school is in it for me, and they’re going to help me get to where I want to go.”
Sam Webb: Are you going to be taking any unofficial visits in the month of July, or are the next visits you take going to be your official visits in the fall?
Jaylen Johnson: “I’m going to take a couple more unofficial visits.”
Sam Webb: Where do you think you’re going to take those visits to?
Jaylen Johnson: “I don’t know. I know I’m going to take them far away though, because I like exploring the world, so I’m going to see.”
Sam Webb: I know you haven’t narrowed down your list, but kind of give me a list of the schools right now that you’re considering.
Jaylen Johnson: “I really don’t know. I really can’t say, because there are a lot of schools, like I can’t narrow it down right now. There are too many schools.”
Sam Webb: So every school that’s showing you interest right now, they’re still on the list?
Jaylen Johnson: “Yeah. I’m not going to count out any school, because I like – just because they show me interest, that makes me consider them because they had time to show me because I’m one in a million.”
Sam Webb: So even the schools that haven’t offered? So let’s say a school offered you in a couple weeks. Would that school have a legit shot even if they offered you after all the rest of the schools on your list?
Jaylen Johnson: “It depends, like if they’ve just been watching me the whole time and seeing my play, and waiting until then, they’re going to get a little less than the people who have been watching me and kept coming to my games after they offered me. But if they come to my games and still haven’t offered me, I’m going to still consider them, but (not as highly as the others).”
Sam Webb: What’s in store for Ypsi high for your senior year?
Jaylen Johnson: “My main goal is to win state for my coach; for my coach and for my team.”
Sam Webb: You love Coach Brooks don’t you?
Jaylen Johnson: “Yeah, that’s my guy.”
Sam Webb: He’s hard on you though, right?
Jaylen Johnson: “I’m used to it now, but my main goal is to win a state championship, like I said, for my coach, for my team, for me, and I guess work hard and prepare myself for college, because college is like, the next step. Ypsi, we’re going to go to work, we’re going to finish. We’re going to the top.”