In Amarillo, Texas at Palo Duro High School there is a sharp shooting combo guard that has the attention of the Big 12 and other western schools. 2005 prospect Austin Johnson does not have a national reputation yet, but once he plays on this summer’s AAU circuit, that may change.
“I’m trying to be unbiased as his coach, but he is really good.,” said Palo Duro head coach Jeff Evans about his 6-foot-3, 170-pound guard. “He is a rare player who is an exceptionally good shooter with tremendous range. He takes a lot of deep threes off the line because everyone knows he can shoot it. But he is not just a shooter. When people rush him, he gets by them into the lane and can finish. He is athletic and long and plays bigger than he is. He jumps well and rebounds well. He is second on our team in assists and one of our best defenders. He leads us in deflections and is second in steals. He plays all phases of the game.”
On the season Johnson is averaging 27 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists for a team that is 27-1 and ranked third in the state in Texas’ second largest classification.
“What makes his stats even more impressive is that he never plays over three quarters, and we have four other players that are averaging in double figures,” said Coach Evans.
Along list of schools have been to Amarillo to watch Johnson either play or practice.
“[Texas] Tech, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Kansas, Kansas State, [Texas] A&M, TCU, New Mexico, Colorado State, and Nebraska have all been in to see him.” said Coach Evans. “Coach Knight has watched him play in Lubbock, and he likes him. Nebraska was in just last week. Colorado State has been recruiting him as long as anybody. They have been very diligent. They think they might be able to get a steal. [Texas] Tech has asked if he is ready to commit, but his parents do not want any pressure on him right now to make a decision. So no one has officially offered him, but I feel pretty certain that all the schools I have named would offer him.”
Not many schools outside of the west are aware of Johnson’s ability because he was only able to play AAU regionally. This summer, however, Johnson should be on the national circuit.
“He had offers to play for both Team Texas and the Dallas Mustangs, but the travel distance just made it too difficult,” said Coach Evans. “He was only able to play AAU in this area. This summer we are trying to get him in the Nike Camp, and he will probably play for one of those AAU teams.”
Louisville, however, is one school outside the west that is aware of Johnson.
“Louisville called and Coach Theus was going to watch him, but he had to cancel the trip for some reason,” said Coach Evans. “He probably felt he could kill more birds by traveling to Houston than by coming out here to Amarillo.”
Johnson projects as a true combo guard on the college level, and Coach Evans is convinced he is good enough to play at any school in the country.
“He is a definite combo,” he said. “He plays both for us. As a senior he will run the point, and he ran it a bunch last year when our other point guard was hurt.”
“I really think he can play anywhere in the country. He is a coach’s kid who understands the game so well. He can really shoot it, and he’s athletic.”