Johnson Getting Initial UNC Interest

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. – It's a safe bet that if a jaw-dropping, crowd-pleasing moment happened during an Oakland Soldiers game, Nick Johnson was at the center of it.

On Monday, Johnson made the front page of Yahoo! after catching a reverse alley-oop from half-court during the Soldiers' first game at the 2010 EYBL Finals at the Nike Peach Jam.

"After I got done with our last game, I had about five texts saying I was on the front cover of Yahoo!," said Johnson. "I went and checked it out, it was pretty cool. It was a good dunk, but I wouldn't say one of my better ones."

The combination of athleticism, timing, speed and strength that Johnson exhibited on the dunk is what has caught the attention of many college coaches – including North Carolina's.

Members of the Carolina staff, including Roy Williams, have watched Johnson and his Soldiers squad several times this week. Johnson, the No. 14 ranked shooting guard in the class of 2011 per, said UNC first initiated contact with him a couple of months ago.

"Roy Williams called about two months ago," Johnson explained. "We didn't talk about anything specific. Right now, I'm just in the beginning stages of getting to know the staff."

Johnson doesn't have a list of favorite schools and said that he will start focusing more on recruiting after the Peach Jam.

He mentioned Arizona State, where his father Joey Johnson was a successful high- jumper, St. John's, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Louisville and Wake Forest as schools that have been showing significant interest.

Johnson averaged 15.5 points, 4.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.3 steals through the first two days of the event. In the last game before the EYBL quarterfinals on Wednesday morning – with Tar Heel assistant Jerod Haase in attendance – Johnson scored 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting from the field. The Soldiers trailed 18-1 early to the Mike Gbinije-led Team Takeover and weren't able to climb back in the game.

"I do anything that my team needs," Johnson said after the loss. "We've been struggling with our shots a little bit, so I've been trying to work on that. I shot the ball pretty well from three."

Johnson took on the challenge of guarding the taller Gbinije and, after struggling in the first half, played solid defense in the second half.

Above all else, Soldiers head coach Derrick Artis said Johnson's defense is what makes him valuable to his AAU squad.

"He's a really strong combo guard and can play the wing or point for us," he explained. "I think he's biggest assets for us this year have been his leadership and his defense. He's become a great defender. That's the biggest thing we like about him."

Johnson is the nephew of the late Dennis Johnson, who was a five-time All-Star with the Boston Celtics and Seattle Supersonics and Most Valuable Player of the 1979 NBA Finals.

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