Friday, August 16, 2013
Johnson's recruiting stock on the rise
By Paul Biancardi
Four-star guard Robert Johnson (Richmond, Va./Benedictine Prep) has come a long way in the past year. This time a year ago, he had only some mid-major scholarship offers, and he fondly recalls his first offer.
"I still remember when (UNC Greensboro head coach) Wes Miller offered me a scholarship,” Johnson said. “I was so excited."
These days, Johnson is one of the fastest-rising and most sought-after recruits in the country thanks to strong performances this spring and summer on the travel circuit playing for Boo Williams, the powerful AAU program out of Virginia.
Four-star guard Robert Johnson was one of the best 3-point shooters on the AAU scene this spring and summer.
“He came into our program as a shooter, then he showed us he could score the ball in different ways and he even took over at the point guard,” said travel team director Boo Williams, for whom the AAU program is named. “Low-maintenance kids who are great players are hard to find -- Robert is both."
Johnson now has an offers list that includes the likes of Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Georgetown and Florida State. Louisville recently called and also wants to get in the mix. Johnson said he will listen.
Johnson’s first official visit is scheduled to Indiana for Aug. 23-25 and he’s also slated to visit Virginia Sept. 6-8. He plans to make his visits along with his parents and said, "If I find something I really like, I won't wait. I could commit on a visit."
One of the things he likes most about the recruiting process is developing a relationship with all the college coaches. "It's cool talking to and getting to know the coaches," he said.
The part of recruiting he could do without, however, is how much time it takes to deal with everything.
"The recruiting process is definitely consuming,” he said. “It takes up a lot of your time."
Through it all, Johnson stays focused on the task at hand, works to improve his skills, and continues to remain as humble and hard working as he was before his stock skyrocketed this spring and summer.
"I know where I was back then, and I knew where I wanted to be," Johnson said.
His father, Robert Johnson Sr., reminds him all the time, "Once you start getting near the top, the only place to go is down." Johnson said that advice keeps him focused. Father and son frequently go to the gym together to work on ball-screen situations, as Robert Sr. will call out how the defense is playing while the younger Johnson will react accordingly to make the correct pass or take the appropriate shot.
A hard worker both on and off the floor, Johnson also has an internship working 15-20 hours a week at Shaheen Law Firm near Richmond -- when he is not on the road playing basketball, that is. He sorts and stamps mail, makes copies and files paperwork. "It helps pay for my tuition at Benedictine," Johnson said.
Johnson is being recruited as combo guard because he possesses interchangeable qualities in the backcourt. From the point guard spot, he shows poise in the half-court offense with his passing skills and the ability to break down a defense with his drive-and-kick game. When he leads the fast break, he is under control and equally effective scoring or making the assist.
As a shooting guard, Johnson is well versed with his series of jab step moves while playing from the triple-threat position. He scores best by knocking down open shots beyond the 3-point arc or on pull-up jumpers off one or two dribbles. In the pick-and-roll game he is becoming equally adept at facilitating or scoring, which makes him hard to defend.
When our updated player rankings come out in September, Johnson will work his way well into the ESPN 100. He will have earned that spot through effort and hard work, and that’s also what has made him such a coveted recruit this spring and summer.