Michigan’s rising interest in Jaylen Johnson coincided with the four-star power forward’s major progress on the floor and academically. That improvement has been spurred on in large part by his mother Janetta Johnson. She was once a standout post player herself, having starred at Ann Arbor Huron and then the University of Wisconsin (where she was team MVP and led the nation in blocked shots) before moving on to play professionally overseas. That experience has made her uniquely qualified to offer sage advice to her son on the floor, in the classroom, and now on the recruiting trail. Her latest words of wisdom have been focused on Michigan, a school and program she holds in high regard.
“I like Michigan,” Mrs. Johnson said. “They’re in the Big Ten and you can get one of the best degrees. I have a Big Ten degree and I always recommend Big Ten degrees. As far as their style of play, they seem to have an open floor style of play, so that’s good too. I’ve really got to dissect the program and the way they play (more), but I love Michigan. I’m from Michigan and any time I turn the TV on, if Wisconsin is not playing and Michigan is, I’m rooting for Michigan. It is just a matter if it is going to be a fit for Jay. (It’ll be about) where I feel that Jay is going to get the most development, the most growth, (and has) the people who are going to get onboard with Jaylen’s dream, as well as him being an asset to the program.”
Michigan is seeking a skilled four-man that is comfortable putting the ball on the floor and passing from the perimeter. Johnson, meanwhile, is searching for a program that will let him exhibit those exact traits. John Beilein & company spent time detailing just how well the two sides might fit together, but the majority of the visit was about getting to know one another. After hours of face time with the Wolverine coaching staff the Johnsons came away extremely impressed… especially with the headman himself.
“I like Beilein,” stated Mrs. Johnson. “I’ve seen him at games and things like that, but I’d never gotten a chance to meet him. I’ve met Bacari down through the years because he’s always frequented the gym. I like Beilein. I was just kind of looking at his eyes when he was talking and was just trying to see if he was an honest kind of guy. He was an honest guy. I’ve got to get to know people more. I’ve been some places and I really love the assistant (coach), but I did not like the head coach. I couldn’t say, ‘I like that guy.’ Talking to Beilein and spending time with him, I like him. Is (Michigan) a good fit for Jay? I don’t know yet. We still got a lot more to do there. It is possible.”
Thursday’s interaction was the first major step in what could be a much longer journey. The Wolverines haven’t yet offered Johnson, but they hope to get both he and his mother back on campus so they closer to that likely end. Mom indicated a return trip is a virtual certainty, but it may not be one of her son’s officials.
“He wants to take all five of his official visits,” Mrs. Johnson explained. “A lot of the colleges don’t want him to do that, but he wants to take all five of his official visits. Will we take an official visit right here in town, I don’t know. We’re right here, (so it seems like) it would just be nuts. Will that stop us from (picking Michigan) if that becomes one of his final colleges? Will an (that visit not being an official) determine his decision? I don’t think so.”
“He is not in a rush. He is happy with the offers that he has on the table… and there are more offers coming every day. We’re going to narrow it down probably before August is out and then we’re going to start taking official visits.”
Stay tuned to GoBlueWolverine for much more from Johnson in the coming days.