basketball Edit

Elite junior Jalen Johnson talks recruitment and game

RANKINGS: 2019 Rivals150 | 2019 Team rankings | 2019 Position rankings

2020 Rivals150 | 2020 Position rankings

Top 75 of 2021

Jalen Johnson (Darren Lee/ Photographer)

MILWAUKEE, Wisc. -- Elite junior Jalen Johnson didn't play over the weekend at the NY2LA Swish 'N Dish so that he could make sure he's fully healthy for the upcoming Grassroots season grind with Phenom University in the Nike EYBL. But, he spoke about visits he's taken and where he feels his game rates nationally.

Ranked No. 3 overall in 2020, the 6-foot-8 do-it-all wing is coming off of a big time campaign at Glendale (Wisc.) Nicolet.

"I feel like I really came into my own during my junior year," Johnson told "I feel like I got better in so many areas like my passing, my jump shot and I'm just continuously working on the things that I wasn't so good at last summer.

"Knowing the work I've put in I think I'm made for big moments and stuff like that.

"I feel like when it's all said and done that I'm going to be the one that's going to be the guy out of this class. That's just my confidence, that's just how I feel. I look up to Ben Simmons a lot and I saw what he did in high school and what he does now I'm trying to play just like him."


Of course a player with Johnson's level of ability can play pretty much anywhere he wants and he's racked up offers from programs across the country. It's impossible to break them all down, but Johnson has been to Arizona, Duke and UCLA officially and has also seen Kentucky, Marquette and Wisconsin unofficially. He discussed each of them.

Arizona: "Coach Justin Gainey we had a previous relationship when he was at Marquette so just having that type of relationship with Coach Gainey and Coach (Sean) Miller, they've made it clear that they want me there. The class they have coming in is really good and I could see myself playing there. It was beautiful there and they have this thing called Phoenix Push where a lot of their big guards like Stanley Johnson and Aaron Gordon have pushed the ball and they compare me to that."

Duke: "It was a good visit and they made me feel like I was at home. The fans chanted my name and being able to spend time with the players and see what it's like there was big. Plus the plan they have for me, that's big. When I was with (Mike Krzyzewski) he basically told me how he can develop me and how I could have an immediate impact and be one of the best players right away."

Kentucky: "I kind of expected a main focus on basketball. Of course they put the focus on school, but the preparation and work they put in for basketball starting in June is kind of crazy. That's what Coach (John) Calipari showed me and he said that I could come in right away and be a playmaker so that's kind of his pitch. That hit deep."

Marquette: "It's kind of like they are just starting from scratch. They have the new arena, they are selling out the arena and the atmosphere there is crazy, really crazy. They have a really good pitch because they want to turn me into a pro and are just comparing me to some other pros. Coach Wojo told me that he's going to hold me accountable for everything."

UCLA: "I had a strong relationship with the assistants there so if they get with a new coach I could definitely still consider them. It's beautiful out there, it's L.A. and it's a big marketing city that could help get your name out there."

Wisconsin: "Wisconsin, that's where I'm originally from, the Madison area. Campus was 10 maybe 15 minutes from my house. So just being there, growing up there they've really grown on me a lot. The fan base, if I went there it would be crazy so just having that type of love and support there is something that I will deeply consider."


There has been speculation that Duke could be a team to beat, but neither Johnson or anybody associated with him has tipped his hand at all. But, the Blue Devils have obviously been a factor with big-time talents in the past so they will surely be in the mix. Arizona has been very aggressive with him and Kentucky has the same recruiting pull as Duke. Wisconsin shouldn't be discounted either because the pull of the home school can be strong.

Don't expect to hear much about Johnson leaning one way or another from him. He's a very bright kid who is doing his best to make sure he leaves as many options as possible open. However, he doesn't anticipate himself taking his recruitment all the way through his senior year.

"I want to get a decision by the first signing period so November around that time," said Johnson. "It's just about having a big plan for me. Once I hit campus I want to feel like I'm at home because I'm kind of a home guy. So feeling the comfort and having the ability to make an impact is something."