Kejuan Johnson has had six years of the spotlight after schools identified him as an elite recruit in middle school. And after six years of stress under the eyes of top college programs, Johnson is happy to say his recruitment is over.
The 6-foot-6 wing made his verbal commitment to Rutgers on Thursday, and followed with a deep sigh of relief.
“I’m ready to start another chapter of my life,” Johnson said. “It’s a huge amount of stress gone. Where am I going to go? When am I going to do it? What is the right fit? It was the right time to end all of that stuff. I trust coach [Eddie] Jordan and his assistants are great.”
Johnson is a senior at Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Military Academy under the guise of coach A.W. Hamilton, but originally comes from Atlanta. Johnson moved around in search of the right educational opportunities, and the pressure to perform as an elite basketball prospect since the age of 11 built up.
Signing with Rutgers next week marks the end of that stressful chapter.
“It’s such a relief,” he said. “It’s overwhelming really because there’s so much emotion that comes with this – up and down with the emotion, too many thoughts going through my head at one time. Now I’m going to school where I can focus on my academics and basketball. This is a big moment for me.”
Rutgers won just 11 games in Jordan’s first year, and has a tough 2014-15 schedule as Big Ten basketball members. That is no big deal for Johnson, who prefers a challenge.
Johnson knows what established powerhouses look like – hearing from schools like Kentucky since he was in middle school – and he would rather take the road less traveled.
“I’ve never been about following the teams that are stacked with star players,” Johnson said. “I’ve never been that type of person. I’ve always wanted to go to underdog teams so I can show people that those are the teams that are awesome. Rutgers, they don’t have a lot of seniors and juniors right now. Coming in there, we’ll all be young and get the chance to build something together.”
Johnson took an official visit to campus over the weekend, which sold him on New Jersey and Jordan. He met with players, toured the facilities, researched academics and watched the football game against Wisconsin from Jordan’s office.
Although Johnson had a ticket to the game, the rain, wind and cold were a little big much for the kid from Atlanta, he admitted.“It’s about coach Jordan and his staff,” Johnson said on his official visit. “Coach Jordan is one of the top coaches in the NBA and in college. I feel like he’s going to develop my game to a new level. I loved meeting him and he made me want to choose Rutgers.”
Johnson said Rutgers fans can expect defense first out of him, along with “a perimeter game and a lot of athleticism.” He plans to pitch Rutgers to teammate and fellow official visitor Justin Goode, but not push him on it.