Vegas: Jayce Johnson Emerging as Elite Post
The offers keep pouring in for Santa Monica (Calif.) big man Jayce Johnson. In the past month, the 2016 seven-footer has pulled down offers from Illinois, Iowa, Vanderbilt, SMU, Penn State, Saint Mary’s, Marquette, Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Kansas State and – most recently – Kansas.
He now has a total of 16 offers, and judging by his performance this past week in Las Vegas at the Fab 48, he isn’t done.
“I mean, all of them stick out,” Johnson says. “Tennessee, Marquette, Kansas State, Penn State, everybody sticks out.”
Johnson has become so much more powerful – and confident – over the past year that he’s now an elite rim protector, to say the least. He is an aggressive rebounder on both ends of the court, finishes well with both hands and is one of the more athletic big men you’ll see at this or any level.
The biggest difference, Johnson says?
“My ability to run up and down the floor, and keep up with other players,” says Johnson. “I can keep up with the guards now, so that’s the best thing that I’ve done – my running and my conditioning and everything, being able to keep up.”
That conditioning has given Johnson a bit of a mean streak when it comes to cleaning up the glass, and it’s a mean streak that comes with confidence and self-assurance in his size and strength. It’s not just shot blocking and rebounding that Johnson has excelled in, though. He’s savvy enough to know that he can alter shots, just by getting his hands up, and that’s allowed him to expand his sphere of influence outside the paint, which he showed buy changing the angle of a last-second overtime shot on Saturday, helping to hold the line for a win for Earl Watson Elite 17U.
“I’m just playing hard, getting to the ball, wanting to win,” says Johnson. “The conditioning makes me quicker, so I can get to that stuff – I’m not going, ‘Oh, I’m not going to get there, so I’m not going to try’ – I know I’m going to make it to the ball, so I go after it.”
Johnson even showed off a solid mid-range game during the Fab 48 at Bishop Gorman High School, as he played in front of nearly all the Pac-12 schools, with California’s Cuonzo Martin being a constant presence in the gym.
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