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Arizona becomes shoe-in for Stanley Johnson
IRVINE – There had been talk that no matter which college got him, Stanley Johnson would be a one-and-done guy.
That is, one year of college basketball before departing for the NBA.
Mater Dei’s Johnson, the No. 9 basketball prospect in the nation as rated by ESPN, ended much speculation Friday when he announced on a national ESPNU telecast that he will attend Arizona.
For just his college freshman year, if all goes perfectly.
“I want to go (to the NBA) when I’m ready," he said at the Live Linkups studio in Irvine, where Johnson did the remote-feed announcement with his parents in attendance. “One-and-done would be great, that's a goal I have.
“If it doesn’t come out that way, then I've still picked a school I can continue to as a student."
Many high school athletes, when announcing on TV their college decisions, put on a cap of the school’s colors and logo to communicate the choice. Johnson held up a pair of basketball shoes that had the Arizona logo on the tongues.
Johnson, a 6-foot-6 guard/forward who was the Register’s Orange County player of the year last season, said Arizona was the best fit for him to reach his goals.
"I feel like Arizona is the best program for me as a player, and just for everybody in my family," Johnson said. "There are a lot of great schools out there. For me as a player, to get better, this is the best move for me."
Johnson had said as recently as last month that he would not make a college decision this soon, and would wait until the regular letter-of-intent signing period, which begins in April, to sign with a school.
He had reduced his college choices to three – Arizona, Kentucky and USC – this month before making his decision Wednesday.
Johnson said he is grateful the recruiting process is over so that he can devote full attention to leading Mater Dei to what would be a fourth straight state championship. He was concerned that continuing the process through the coming season could be detrimental.
“I’m relieved,” he said. “I’ve been relieved for a couple of days now since I made my decision. It’s a weight off of the shoulders. For me, the biggest thing is getting another state title and I don’t want anything to affect my play.”
Johnson said he will sign the Arizona letter of intent Monday.
He averaged 19 points and nine rebounds a game last year for the Monarchs, who finished 32-2.Johnson has been a Mater Dei starter since his freshman year.
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