Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
Lower Merion Aces forward B.J. Johnson ended several days of heavy rumor and speculation by confirming this afternoon that he is indeed headed to Syracuse.
An athletic, 6-foot-7 wing with a good jumper, Johnson was down to Syracuse, Temple, Rutgers and Villanova as his final four schools and picked the current Big East (and future ACC) powerhouse over some more local schools despite telling reporters that he had an interest in staying in the Philadelphia area. Rumors began swirling this weekend that Johnson had committed while on his visit; it was confirmed today by Rivals.com’s Alex Kline.
Johnson is the second commitment the Orange and head coach Jim Boeheim have received in the last two days. On Sunday, Bishop Kearney (N.Y.) forward Chinonso Obokoh committed to Syracuse after a weekend in which both Obokoh and Johnson took their official visits to the school. They both join Canadian point guard Tyler Ennis, younger brother of Villanova guard Dylan Ennis, as the current 2013 class for Syracuse.
The Orange have certainly made their presence felt in Philadelphia over the last number of years, getting current NBA players Hakim Warrick (Friends’ Central) and Dion Waiters (Life Center Academy) as well as current sophomore Rakim Christmas and others to go to college in the middle of New York.
CoBL was at Lower Merion in September to take in a workout, and wrote this about the then-16-year-old senior:
Johnson, a 6-foot-7 wing, has seen his recruiting stock soar over the last six months. A very young senior, the 16-year-old was hearing from Patriot League schools at this time a year ago but now has a final quartet of Big East options to choose from. Johnson named Temple, Villanova, Syracuse and Rutgers as the schools he’ll make his decision from, but added he hasn’t yet set any official visits.
“He’s an athletic 3-man, a winger, very bouncy,” Lower Merion coach Greg Downer said about Johnson. “Very good 3-point shooter, and really improved over the last six months. Getting better with the dribbling, getting stronger, but at the end of the day he is a high-flying wing that can shoot.”
Johnson showed off that shooting ability on Thursday night, hitting several 3-pointers during a full-court exercise; the athletic wing gets nice elevation and has very smooth form both off the dribble and as a spot shooter. Still working on his strength, as Downer noted, but he’s certainly not the skinniest or weakest wing around; his ability to get in the lane and hit the mid-range jumper will determine a lot about how effective he is immediately at the Big East level.