Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Sidiki Johnson, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound rising junior forward from St. Raymond’s High School in The Bronx, gave a verbal commitment to Arizona on Saturday after first reaching out to the coaching staff Thursday.
“I committed Saturday,” said Johnson, who lives in Harlem and is ranked No. 56 by Rivals in the Class of 2011. “I like everything [about the school]. I feel comfortable there. I got a great relationship with Coach Sean Miller. I just like everything about the school.”
Johnson visited Arizona in June unofficially and ended up choosing the Wildcats over Kentucky, Providence, Virginia Tech, St. John’s and others.
Kentucky coach John Calipari attended the Summer in the City event at St. John’s on Friday in part to watch Johnson play.
“My mom liked [Arizona],” he said. “Everyone in my family liked it.”
Johnson averaged 11 points and 10 rebounds last season at St. Ray’s, which reached the title game of the SNY Invitational before falling to Sherrod Wright and Mount Vernon.
He is Arizona’s first commitment from the Class of 2011.
Bernard Bowen, Johnson’s Godfather, said Miller was the first coach to see Johnson play when Miller was at Xavier.
“When Sean Miller was at Xavier, he was the only head coach who came to see him play,” Bowen said. “[Johnson] knows that. He likes Sean Miller. He is a good guy. He means well.”
Arizona assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson, a New York native, was once again influential in bringing a New York City kid to the Desert.
“Book, me and him are real close,” Johnson said. “We real cool. “It means a lot to just know that when I go to school out there, I’ll be taken care of.”
Richardson also landed Kevin Parrom and Lamont “Momo” Jones from the 2009 class. Johnson is friends with both.
“Me and Momo are from the same neighborhood,” Johnson said. “Kev’s from the Bronx.”
Johnson is also friendly with Angel Nunez, a 6-9 wing from New York who is currently at the Winchendon (Mass.) School and is being recruited by Arizona.
“Me and him are cool,” Johnson said.
At 6-8, Johnson still needs to bulk up and get stronger and learn to finish more around the basket. But he can take bigger, slower players off the dribble and score on smaller ones in the paint.
“Sidiki does a little bit of everything,” Bowen said. “In college he’ll probably be a three/four. He can handle the ball. He does a number of things. He can put the ball on the floor, he can face up, he can back you down, he has a post-up game and he can hit the 3.”
Said Johnson: “I’ll be whatever player the coach needs me to be. If I have a smaller guy I’ll play inside. If I have a slower, taller guy, I’ll play outside. I can play on every side of the court.”
As for the upcoming season, Johnson says he wants to lead St. Raymond’s to a city title in the post-Lance Stephenson Era.
“Hopefully we’ll take it,” he said. “That’s my goal this upcoming school season.”
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.