Johnson Turned On By Notre Dame

In his two seasons as an assistant on the Notre Dame basketball staff, Gene Cross did a lot of things to help the Irish program. Perhaps where he made the biggest dent, was as a recruiter.

One of the kids Cross turned on to Notre Dame, is four-star shooting guard, Anthony Johnson. The class-of-2010 product visited South Bend during the fall, and picked up his then second scholarship offer from Cross and the Irish.

"Coach Cross took me to the side, he talked to me and said I have a scholarship to that school, and the head coach likes me a lot, and it was a blessing to get the scholarship."

Illinois previously offered the 6-foot-3, 180-pound Johnson, and the Whitney Young standout has been blessed a few other times, earning scholarships from Iowa, Iowa State, Purdue, and most recently Miami. Johnson also said he has a full-ride from another Big Ten program, but can't disclose who it is at this juncture.

Cross left the Notre Dame staff after the season to take the job as coach at Toledo. Though Johnson was disappointed to see him go, he is still very excited about the Irish offer.

"I definitely liked coach Cross a lot, but I wouldn't say it hurts them," Johnson explained.

"They're a great team. They have a great tradition. They have great fans that load the gym every game. It can't get much better than that. Big East, top-25 team in the country, a great program.

"Just their athletics and academics, combined it's equal. I want to go professional in basketball, but if I didn't, just getting a degree from there would set me for life in whatever I want to pursue whether its sports management or being a lawyer. Getting a degree from there sets you money wise."

Johnson has been money on the hardwood.

As a sophomore, Johnson averaged around 10 points per game on a team that featured a few Division I players, and a great tour on the AAU circuit this summer has him ranked as's sixth-ranked shooting guard.

"Schools like that I can play the point and be a shooting guard, and how I score the ball," Johnson said. "My motor doesn't stop. I keep playing hard. In transition, they like my transition game, I make the right play, stuff like that."

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey called Johnson back in June, and the two have talked a couple times since.

"He said he saw me play and I did good," Johnson stated. "He is trying to gain a relationship with me. We talked more about things other than basketball."

New Irish assistant coach Anthony Soloman has taken over the recruitment of Johnson, and the two have talked a few times as well.

Besides Notre Dame, Johnson has visited Marquette, Purdue and Iowa State. He plans to take in Ohio State soon for the first time, and he could possibly end up back at Notre Dame again in the fall.

"When I talk to coach again, we'll probably talk about that in August, and hopefully I can check out the campus."

Johnson visited the first time with his parents, a teammate and his father. He saw the basketball team practice, and took in a football game.

"I liked it a lot," Johnson said of Notre Dame. "It was a great campus, and the coaching staff was real respectful. I liked the facilities, and they're going to get new facilities, they showed me and I liked everything."

Johnson's parents enjoyed the trip as well.

"They liked it a lot. They thought it was a great campus, and they liked the coaching staff. They saw the potential of me coming in and playing in the Big East and getting exposure."

Johnson has a 2.8 GPA, and hasn't set a timetable on when he's going to make a college decision.

"If I like a school that much I could decide tomorrow," he said. "Who knows. I'm waiting to take some unofficials, and maybe some officials, and then make a decision.

"I'm looking for a nice environment. Safe, good academics, a great coaching staff and a good basketball program. It doesn't have to be the best program in the world, I'd go to a school and help build a program. Mainly, I'm focusing on academics and the coaching staff." Top Stories