I was in Minneapolis for the second session of the Nike EYBL over the summer talking about Oakland Soldier Stanley Johnson’s game with two Nike reps. Nike reps spend a lot of the downtime with the players at the EYBL since they eat with the players and stay in the same hotels. They make sure all the players are accounted for and are responsible for their well being.
After describing a lot of the strengths of Johnson’s game one of the reps then blurted out, “And he’s humble!”.
That statement resonated with me the rest of the summer as the rep was emphatic when he said it.
And it’s true, Johnson is definitely humble.
He is a must get for Arizona. Without Johnson the 2014 class will be considered a failure. He would give Arizona its fifth Oakland Soldier in four years. In 2011, Arizona nabbed Nick Johnson who is now the leader of your 2013-2014 Wildcats. They also landed Josiah Turner who left the team after one year. In 2012, Brandon Ashley became a cat and in 2013 so did Aaron Gordon. So it begs the questions, Can Arizona land five soldiers in four years?
We think so.
But don’t think the Wildcats and Soldiers have some automatic pipeline going on. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s as mythical as the Findlay Prep pipeline that many recruiting diehards think exists. Arizona has had to recruit each Soldier individually and truth be told they haven’t had a lot of help from the Soldiers. The Soldiers leave it up to their players to make their own decisions.
That’s not to say the Soldiers staff and coaches don’t love Arizona. They just have remained neutral when it comes to their players choosing schools. Afterall, if a player doesn’t like a school they don’t want or need the blame.
“Arizona is a west coast school so a lot of guys out here want to stay out west whether it be Oregon, USC or Arizona. But that’s not the only factor. Former alumni like Miles Simon has also been in my ear”, Johnson told PGU.
“My first year on the Soldiers was Nick’s last”, said Johnson. “I’m friends with Brandon Ashley and Aaron Gordon is my boy. I know everything that goes on with Arizona. There’s no lying to me. If I have a question they answer it.”
But Johnson doesn’t only know Soldiers on the Arizona squad.
“I’ve scrimmaged Elliot twice before so I got to know him then and we remain good friends. I know him really well.”
Arizona remains in great shape and if history is any indicator Arizona could land another Oakland Soldier this Friday.