John Johnson Talks Eddie Griffin Challenge

Two of the richer areas for high school basketball were under the spotlight this past weekend, as a group of Philadelphia all-stars took on a group of New Jersey all-stars, in the Eddie Griffin Challenge.

Pitt commit John Johnson represented the Philadelphia team, and finished with 16 points. Jaylen Bond, also a Pitt commit for 2011, represented the 2011 Philadelphia team. The Philadelphia All-stars defeated their New Jersey counterparts, 90-87. All three games--the 2011, 2012 and 2013 all-star games--were all won by the respective Philadelphia squad.

"I got off to a slow start, but I came out in the second half with four or five threes," Johnson said. "It was good playing against the top competition.

"It was good getting the sweep. When you see the New Jersey players, you see them at tournaments, bragging at tournaments. We play them once a year to see who the best city is. We only get Philly. They have the whole state of New Jersey."

Johnson was at Pitt just a few weeks before that, and said that he cannot get to Pitt soon enough.

"I went up there for an official (visit), it was crazy," Johnson said. "They treated me like I was already on the team. I know I'm looking forward to it."

As part of his visit, he had a chance to check out the Cathedral of Learning and had dinner with head coach Jamie Dixon, 2011 commit Durand Johnson and current Panthers Gary McGhee and Dante Taylor. At a hibachi restaurant, Johnson said Taylor put him up to a challenge at dinner.

"He made me try sushi," Johnson said. "It was the worst food I ever tasted. Dante may seem like he's a quiet dude, but not when I was out there."

The next morning--before he left town--he had a quick breakfast with Dixon and first-year assistant Pat Skerry, whom was hired at Pitt after Johnson verbally committed.

"Coach Skerry is real cool," Johnson said. "He's a funny guy. When I went out there, he made me feel real welcome from the moment I stepped off the plane."

Aside from the coaches, Johnson said he and the rest of the members of the 2011 class are pretty well connected. On top of that, he is learning more and more about 2012 verbal commits Khem Birch and Steven Adams.

"I talk to Jaylen (Bond) almost every day," Johnson said. "Jaylen's going up (to Pitt) on Friday, and he wanted me to come up to, but I don't think I will. I talk to Durand (Johnson) here and there. Same with Malcolm (Gilbert).

"Khem Birch, I haven't actually seen him play, but I saw a couple highlights. Outside of that, I don't know too much about him. Steve Adams, coach Skerry was telling me about him."


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