Coast 2 Coast Hoops
Stanley Johnson, without question, is a top 10 player in the 2014 class. He’s underrated by the recruiting rankings, which peg him anywhere from the early teens to early 20’s. It may seem like a minor hair to split, but Johnson has proven himself to be in his class’ highest tier, and there is a legitimate argument that Johnson is the best player of the 2014 stock.
Johnson has the most unique combination of size and perimeter skill in the entire class. At 6’7″ 220 lbs, the Mater Dei product is a guard in a forward’s body.
But it wasn’t always like that for Johnson. As an underclassman he acquired a reputation for being physically developed, but lacking the skill to be a legitimate perimeter threat. Over the last year, though, his ball handling and perimeter skills have improved so much that Johnson doesn’t just have a real perimeter game to complement his excellent physical frame, he’s now one of the most complete players in his class.
Johnson’s ball handling might be his most improved attribute, displaying a tight handle, great ability to change direction, and a devastating stutter step. Last year he wasn’t able to consistently beat his man off the dribble, but now he is.
Improved shooting has also been key in opening up the perimeter game for Johnson. He has always been able to catch and shoot, but he has added a pull up jumper and is much more comfortable shooting off the dribble. He has range out to the three point line, boasting great mechanics and a quick release. And as he continues to work on shooting off screens, he’ll become even more potent from the midrange as well.
Johnson’s newly blossomed perimeter game just makes his strength and versatility all the more deadly. There are few players at the high school level that can contain Johnson driving with a full head of steam, as his strength results in and-1’s and collapsing defenses.
Now that teams have to respect his ability to create on the perimeter, Johnson can get to the rim almost at will. He attacks the hoop hard, with the ability to anticipate and absorb contact while having the body control to finish in traffic. His strength also allows him to be a factor on both the offensive and defensive glass.
A quick first step makes Johnson a terror when he sees an open lane to the basket, but he’s also a willing passer who has a great feel for setting up others, especially feeding post players with crafty interior dishes.
Hopefully what I’ve painted by now is the picture of a complete offensive player. Johnson can hit from the perimeter, put the ball on the floor and get to the rim through contact, and he’s a great passer who plays within the team concept. And yet Johnson’s laundry list of strengths goes on, as he projects to be as big of a force on the defensive side of the ball as he is on offense.
A muscular frame, great length, and lateral quickness make Johnson a potential lock down defender. And at 6-foot-7 with a strong lower body, he can even defend certain post situations at the college level. With his offensive and defensive ability, Johnson has the kind of versatility that coaches dream about.
But make no mistake about it, despite his height and impressive build, Johnson is very much a guard. He will be able to slide between the shooting guard and small forward positions easily, providing a serious size advantage to whichever college team he chooses.
Bottom Line: His rapid improvement in perimeter skills over the last year has completely changed the kind of prospect Johnson is. He’s the most complete player in the 2014 class, and he has one of the best combinations of size, skill, and feel for the game. Johnson combines elite size and strength for the guard position, and has tremendous defensive potential.
In addition to his physical abilities, Johnson is a cerebral player who will take well to coaching at the college level and will thrive in a structured offense. When you look at his overall skillset, Johnson belongs among the most elite names in the 2014 class.