Syracuse Orange men's basketball signee B.J. Johnson has been continuing to impress on the floor in his season before he will join the Orange. The Lower Merion High School guard reach the 1,000-point mark this season, placing his name among 10 players in the history of the Aces.
But the good news did not end there. "We won just won our league championship," said Johnson, referring to Lower Merion's defeat of Ridley, 57-50, in the Central League finals.
The season has not come without its challenges, however. "We lost our first game of the season, and then we lost to Imhotep Charter," Johnson stated. "So I think as a team, like as we go on, we just keep getting better and better."
Despite the two losses, Johnson and Lower Merion have put together a 21-2 record.
As far as the two defeats Johnson and the Aces have taken, "It can only make me stronger," Johnson expressed.
With the season moving forward, Johnson has seen improvement in himself. "I think I'm like more unselfish, like trying to find my teammates more," Johnson shared. "And I just keep getting stronger."
Physically, Johnson has undergone some changes. "I put on an inch," said Johnson, who has now grown from 6'6" to 6'7".
"I just lost five pounds 'cause I had the flu," Johnson also stated, lowering him to 175 pounds.
Concerning his recent bout with the flu, "I just sat out one game," Johnson remarked.
As far as how he feels currently, Johnson responded, "I'd say I'm about 98-99%."
Off the court, Johnson has tried to keep up with the Syracuse season. "I usually see every game," said Johnson. "I missed the game [versus Connecticut] though."
"I talk to coach [Adrian] Autry like about every week, once or twice every week," he added. "We usually just talk about the games, how excited they are for me to come down."
As far as what advice Autry has given to him, Johnson shared, "He just is telling me to keep playing my game, staying confident...keep adding to my game."
When talking on playing time early in his career, Johnson remarked, "He said I should be able to play just as long as I work, work hard, work for my spot," in reference to Autry.
Outside of Autry, Johnson expressed that he has not been in touch with the rest of the staff, but had talked to Autry's fellow assistant coach Mike Hopkins before. "I talked to Hop (coach Mike Hopkins) a couple times," Johnson stated. "Pretty much the same thing as Autry." But, Johnson added that Hopkins was also "cracking a couple jokes in there".
Switching from the coaching staff to the players currently on the Orange roster, Johnson shared that he keeps in touch with sophomore forward Rakeem Christmas moreso than the rest of the team. "I talk to him every now and then," Johnson remarked. "We usually just joke around."
Keeping with the conversation on Syracuse players, Johnson has been keying in on the play of junior forward C.J. Fair. "I like C.J. [Fair], 'cause we both like play like the slash and wing type of position," he said.
Fair has become a threat both inside and outside with his shot. When asked about his ability to shoot, Johnson responded that he is "very dominant". "I'm leading the team in threes and I think I might be like second in like field goal percentage," Johnson shared. "So, I've been shooting threes and going inside. I get the balance."
Johnson stated that it is "definitely" important for him to keep that balance as he transitions into collegiate play soon enough for Syracuse.
"I have a good mid-range so if I drive, and I'm long so I can easily just shoot over top of people," said Johnson, describing his play. "Then, I might just pull up for a little like short jumper."
Moving to the defensive end of the game, Johnson expressed how comfortable he is playing in a zone. "Very," he said, "'cause we play the zone probably, I would say, about 75% of the time here. We play the 2-3 zone."
As to whether he sets up on the top or down low in the 2-3 zone at Lower Merion, "It depends who's in," Johnson remarked. "I usually start like down low, on a wing. Then, after like our guards start coming out for subs, then I like move to the top."
The first round of the 2013 PIAA District 1 Boys Basketball AAAA tournament begins tonight at 7pm ET for Johnson and Lower Merion. They are the second-seeded squad out of 32 teams, giving them home court advantage at Kobe Bryant Gymnasium in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, versus their first foe, Conestoga (11-11).