Arizona came within one possession of making the Final 4 last March, and there was some doubt about whether they could make another deep run after losing Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson to the NBA draft. One guy who hopes to get the Wildcats back to the Elite 8 is incoming freshman Stanley Johnson. He had a scintillating spring including his fourth straight state high school title, the California “Mr. Basketball” award, and an appearance on the West roster in the McDonald’s All-American Game. His summer plans are looking pretty sweet too, as he made the official 12-man roster for the USA U18 national team last weekend that will be playing in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship later this month in Colorado Springs. CHD’s Jon Teitel got to chat with Johnson about going undefeated, picking the Wildcats, and playing for Coach Sean Miller.
Your mother Karen was a Hall of Fame basketball player at Jackson State and later played professionally in Denmark, Italy and Sweden: what kind of influence has she been on you both on and off the court? She has been a great influence on me: it always helps to have a Hall of Famer in the family.
Your team at Mater Dei went 35-0 in each of the past two years: did it reach a point where you just expected to win every time you stepped out on the court? Never.
You were a four-time CIF division one state champ: what is the key to winning titles? To not be complacent and expect to win every time you step on the court! You have to earn a win every time you go out there.
Last November 15th you chose Arizona over USC and Kentucky: what made you choose the red-and-blue Wildcats? I thought they were the best school on the list for me. The key to selecting a school is about who you believe in and who you can trust.
You are the third straight California “Mr. Basketball” to end up at Arizona (Aaron Gordon won in 2012/2013 before declaring for this year’s draft, and Ryan Anderson won in 2011/went to Boston College/recently transferred to Tucson): do you think this is just a coincidence or the start of a trend? I think it is just a testament to the recruiting process and the great work done by all of the Arizona coaches.
You are 6’7” and 220 pounds: do you feel most comfortable at SG or SF? Point forward is my favorite but I can play any spot from the one (points guard) through the four (power forward). It just depends on the situation: I am flexible so I will just do my best at whatever position I play.
You recently made the cut for USA Basketball’s Under 18 roster: what is it like to have your future coach (Sean Miller) as one of the U-18 assistants? It is really amazing to have him out here with me, especially considering I am going to be playing for him in the fall. I am just happy to be here.