4-star center deciding on visits

2016 Santa Monica (Calif.) center Jayce Johnson talked with Billy about his SMU offer and recruitment.

2016 Santa Monica (Calif.) center Jayce Johnson is one of the most highly-regarded big men in the country and SMU recently offered Johnson when assistant KT Turner spoke with him and his dad.

Turner let Johnson know he had an offer and talked with Johnson about SMU having an immediate need in the post and the opportunity to play early.

“Coach Turner sounds like a stand up guy,” the four-star center said. “He talked about how they were going to lose bigs after next year and they need a big that could come in and play right away and he would like me to be that. He sounded very true.”

Johnson’s dad told him that SMU is really excited about the potential he has in SMU’s system and for the chance to recruit him.

While the No. 15 ranked center in the country has only just begun hearing from SMU, he’s interested because of head coach Larry Brown’s NBA experience.

“I don’t really follow a lot of schools. I’ve heard he coached in the NBA for a long time,” Johnson said.

Saint Mary’s, SMU, Oregon, UC-Santa Barbara, Cal, Nevada, Utah, Arizona State, Auburn, Washington State, Gonzaga, NC State have all offered Johnson and are actively talking with him. Cal, Utah and Oregon were the ones that Johnson mentioned as hearing the most from.

Even with those schools talking with him, Johnson doesn’t have a favorite, but is more focused on him having the opportunity to play at the next level.

“I never really had a dream school. I just wanted to play basketball and that was my dream and that was my dream to having fun playing it,” California’s No. 2 center said. “It just turned out that my dream turned out to have something good with it and that’s to go to college because of it.”

Academics, coaching staff, player programs and a team atmosphere are the key things that Johnson is focusing on. Having his parents attend his games would be nice too.

The team that lands the Top 100 player will get a big man who can really use his size to his advantage, but as he continues to fill out, will hope to gain more athleticism.

“On the defensive end, I’m a good rebounder and I block a lot of shots. On the offensive side, I actually widened out my game. I’m shooting 15-footers now and I’m more of a back to the basket kind of player where I can get the ball and get into my moves so I finish around the basket well with both of my hands.”

With Earl Watson Elite, the 7-foot, 235-pound has been growing into his body more and developing a more powerful body.

“People have been telling me I’ve trimmed out and lost a little bit of the baby fat. People are saying I’m progressing and I can feel myself getting better, jumping higher and running quicker.”

In the fall, Johnson expects to take some official visits, but doesn’t know where yet. He’s undecided on whether he wants to sign early, but wants to make the right decision for him.

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