TTA Kid- Pass first Johnson paces De La Salle

The rule of thumb in basketball is that taller and bigger is more advantageous. However, exceptions always exist. At 5-foot-7 and 145 pounds, 2013 point guard George Johnson Jr. plays with a lot of heart and intensity that does not compare to his current size.

Johnson will be a key part of the De La Salle Spartans’ run for a repeat state title appearance in 2012. In addition, he will see more playing time after backing up star guard Amadi Udenyi this past season.

Udenyi says about his high potential underclassman teammate, “George and I will be running the back court together. His role is to be a true point guard and get clutch baskets when we need it. Also, George has a great handle and jump shot and should be a huge impact to the team this year.”

At the recent Oakland Soldiers Extravaganza in Hayward, Johnson was showcasing his skills for his Oakland Soldiers 17U Blue team. Johnson displayed good point guard fundamentals as his head was always looking up while he kept his dribble alive. In addition, his passing was crisp and decisive.

Johnson, No. 32 on the NCP Top 40 2013 list, considers himself to be a finesse player but also has the ability to turn on another gear to separate from a defender. He considers his best move to be the in and out crossover move to get the defense off balance. Overall, he models his game after former Wake Forest star Chris Paul because he has the ability to both score and pass exceptionally well.

Oakland Soldiers Coach Ray Thomas believes that Johnson has a high ceiling. Thomas says, “George is a pass first point guard. He will get everybody involved before looking for his own shot. He is a leader who is always talking to his teammates and picking guys up. That translates well for a budding point guard. He is a heady guard who understands the game and rarely makes mistakes.”

Nicknamed JuJu (short for Junior) by his little brother, 5 year old Chase, Johnson has been playing organized basketball since 2nd grade CYO. He spent a week this past spring break working for Coach Frank Allocco at the Excel basketball camp as a counselor, working with the younger kids. He works on developing Chase’s handles and shooting on the weekends as well. So, becoming a coach may be in his future when his playing days are over.

The recruiting process is still early for this junior to be. He has been in contact with the University of Denver. Johnson would like to be on the west coast and play for a fast pace basketball program. He has 3.00 GPA and would like to attend a strong academic school and major in Business.

Coach Thomas reflects on Johnson’s recruiting, “George has a shot at the D1 level. He has to get bigger and stronger. As a smaller guard, you have to be a physical rock. He has a good shot to get better. He will be tested this summer which will determine a lot about George’s college future.”

During this upcoming summer offseason, Johnson plans to spend a lot of time lifting weights and shooting as many jump shots as possible, working on extending his 3pt range. Along with these workouts, he will be playing with both Greenline (De La Salle’s summer program) and the Oakland Soldiers. He has a very busy summer schedule ahead of him.

This past year at De La Salle, Johnson saw limited duty on the varsity as a sophomore. He says, “It was frustrating at times. I just kept working hard, and kept trying to learn. We had a very good team. I had to learn patience.” In addition, Johnson endured the death of his grandmother at a young age.

Despite these setbacks, Johnson has persevered. Expect Johnson to help pace the Spartans in the upcoming season in Concord.

Steve Hu ( 5.06.2011