Noel Johnson doesn't really say a lot. The 6-foot-7 junior from Fayette County (Ga.) High School doesn't really need to. He says a lot on the hardwood, where he's proving himself as one of the elite scorers in the class of 2009.
With his regular season nearly wrapping up, Johnson said his focus is starting to narrow into a small tunnel. His attention is wrapped up in winning ball games and winning in the schoolbooks.
"I think I've been playing pretty well this year by getting ready for this post-season run we need to make," Johnson said. "I'm trying to take over more games when my team needs me the most."
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Johnson can certainly score the ball with the best of them. He is averaging nearly 25 points a game this season.
"I was playing around with my AAU teammates and I told them that I was going to lead the state in scoring this year," Johnson said.
He's almost there. Johnson is tops in Georgia's AAAA classification in scoring. The soft-spoken four-star prospect said there was one defining moment to his season this year.
"Kentucky. That first game I played up there was probably it," Johnson said.
All he did was score 46 points and grabbed double rebounds in front of a packed house of rabid, yet knowledgeable, fans.
"It was split right down the middle of Kentucky fans and Louisville fans. They really love their high school basketball up there," Johnson said. "They understand the game. They know what's going on…There were a lot of fans yelling, 'You should go here, you should go there.' It was intense."
They also know recruiting. Johnson said he heard enough recruiting pitches to suffice for the remainder of his high school career. He is hearing pitches nearly every day.
The revolving door at Fayette County has been busy as coaches from Georgia, Georgia Tech, Memphis, Louisville, Michigan State, Ohio State, Indiana, USC, UCLA, Texas, Auburn, Minnesota and others have all been through to see Johnson this year. But don't expect him to declare a leader, or even a list for that matter.
"I'm still really open right now and I'm seeing how is serious," Johnson said.
His father, Lynbert "Cheese" Johnson, is fielding nearly all of the recruiting calls. That has become a daily chore for the former Wichita State star.
"I'm keeping him away from it so he can just focus on his academics," the elder Johnson said. "I don't want to overload him with the recruiting stuff. Without the academics, none of this even matters."
The only thing that matters to the younger Johnson these days is the hardware. He's scoring big numbers with the end goal of bringing home the championship this season.
After that, and after the books, will come recruiting. That has been the motto all along for the Johnson family. That doesn't appear to be changing any time soon.