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.
Stanley Johnson, the highly sought after wing from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, is still mulling five schools, even as plays with USA Basketball this weekend in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The 6-foot-6 Johnson still has four visits planned — to Kentucky (Oct. 18), Oregon (Oct. 24), Florida (Nov. 1) and USC (Nov. 15) — and said he won’t likely commit until after the New Year.
“I mean, I can go as early as January or as late as April,” Johnson told SNY.tv from Colorado. “I won’t sign until the spring.”
So far, Johnson has taken one official visit to Arizona, the school that many believe he will ultimately end up at, and he will also go there Oct. 12 for the Red/Blue Game. His AAU program, the Oakland Soldiers, has sent several players to Arizona, including Nick Johnson,Brandon Ashley and Aaron Gordon.
“I went to Arizona,” he said. “They’ve been recruiting me since freshman year and they have a great communication with me. I like the school, I like the campus. It’s close to my house, but not too close and I have a lot of people that go there, I have a lot of family friends. So it’s a good school.”
Kentucky is also high on Johnson’s list and coach John Calipari worked hard watching him over the summer. Johnson heads there for “Big Blue Madness” later this month.
“I’m looking forward to that visit,” he said. “It’s going to be fun. It’s the best event as early as possible, so I’m excited about it. I’ve never been to the state of Kentucky.”
Kentucky has two pledges in the Class of 2014 in point guard Tyler Ulis and big man Karl Towns Jr., but has yet to land a wing player. They are involved with several, including Johnson, James Blackmon Jr., and Kelly Oubre.
“I’m not really worried about anybody else,” Johnson said. “I’m not worried about making headlines or saying I’m the first to commit somewhere. I’m just trying to make the best decision for me as a player, whenever that happens, that happens.”
After Kentucky, Johnson said he will likely visit Oregon Oct. 24.
“They’re a great school,” he said. “They have a good coaching staff. They’ve also been recruiting me since freshman year, one of the first schools to offer me. I’ve always been close to them. It’s close to home. I know a lot of people there. My former AAU teammate, Dominic Artis, goes there, so he’s a great point guard and I need one of those on my team o play with.”
Florida would be next on Nov. 1.
“They probably have the best hands-on coach so far in the recruitment process,” Johnson said. “I really like coach [Billy] Donovan and coach [Rashon] Burno. They’re doing a good job with me, so it’s a hard decision for me as a player. I’m excited for my visit to come up so we can kind of knock some things out.”
Finally, Johnson plans an unofficial to USC Nov. 15.
“[Coach Andy Enfield], he’s going to do a great job with that program,” Johnson said. “Just talking to him. He came to the game late and he’s putting his best foot forward so far. So I’m excited to see what they have to offer. It’ll be big for him. Regardless if he gets me or anyone else from the 2014 class I think his 2015 class will be spectacular because he’s a great recruiter.”
Johnson said he and Justise Winslow are still talking about playing together — possibly at Arizona, Florida or Kentucky.
“We talked about it recently and it’s still a possibility,” he said. “It’s not like a set-in-stone thing. It’s just if we can possibly do it together, that’s what we’re gonna do.”
Winslow will visit Duke later this month with Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor, but Johnson doesn’t know if that necessarily means all three will end up there.
“Anything’s possible, you never know,” he said. “I talked to him and it’s totally up to him what he wants to do with his decision and everything and I’m not going to get into that. I told him we have joint schools on our list, and if you want to play together just let me know.”
Photo: USA Basketball
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.