He surrounds himself with men that go by Cheese, Tiny, X-Man and Stinger and sophomore Noel Johnson has picked up a nickname himself along the way. But the 6-foot-7 wing they call "Cheddar" doesn't need one. He is perfectly content with letting his versatile game do the talking.
Johnson, a five-star prospect from Fayette County (Ga.) High School, is amongst the top 10 players in the class of 2009. From his father, Lynbert "Cheese" Johnson who played at Wichita State, to the trio of former NBA players that he works with in his spare time.
His godfather is Xavier "X-Man" McDaniel. Johnson spent a summer working with Nate "Tiny" Archibald and tapped into the brain of Mike "Stinger" Glenn, a former teammate of his father's. The younger Johnson soaks in the knowledge from all four former players.
"Mike Glen has taught me how to shoot it and Tiny has helped me with my ball-handling and Xavier has helped me down low," Johnson said. "My dad, well, he's my dad. He helps me with everything."
Johnson said he isn't star struck like some would be when he's playing with the former pros. In fact, he stays humble out of age.
"I'm too young to remember any of them," Johnson said. "I started playing with them when I was about 11 of 12. I played them every chance I could.
Humility is one of the reasons why Johnson is becoming such a coveted player in the 2009 class. On Friday, and in front of a raucous crowd at home, Johnson came up with 28 points, including 10 in the final four minutes of play to help his squad pick up a huge win against region rival Westlake. Even with the plays of the game, Johnson stayed humble and credited his teammates with putting him into the right place at the right time.
"I want to play like how I'm going to play in college. Schools are looking at me now so I know I have to get ready," Johnson said.
He's getting ready alright. And the schools are certainly coming.
Alabama (offer), Connecticut, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Memphis, Michigan State, Ohio State and Virginia Tech have all been out to see Johnson play this season. Johnson said John Calipari and Tom Izzo are the only two head coaches that stopped by Fayette County High School this year. Kentucky was on hand on Friday.
Johnson said he does have an early top five, comprising of Connecticut, Memphis, LSU, Georgia Tech and Florida. Keep a close watch on what fellow Georgia stud Derrick Favors does with his recruitment. Johnson said the two are tight on and off the court and have flirted with the idea of suiting up together.
"We've talked about it," Johnson said. "We like to play together. I like his style, he likes my style. We work well together. We've talked about playing together. If it happens, it happens. That would be great."
It only makes sense that he wants to surround himself with other great players. That seems to be the only thing he knows about on the hardwood.