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August 16, 2010

Durand Johnson commits to Big East school

In Anthony Lewis’ mind, there was no way Durand Johnson could’ve gone wrong. durand-johnson.jpg

The longtime Cecil Kirk coach saw his star player earn scholarship offers from more than 20 Division I basketball programs, including Cincinnati, Louisville, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Seton Hall and St. John’s.

“I don’t think any of the schools could’ve been a bad fit for him. All the contenders, they really had a legitimate shot. I thought he agonized long and hard on those schools, because he couldn’t go wrong on them. … But he was an early, heavy lean toward” one of those Big East programs, Lewis said.

On Monday night, Johnson committed to the program Lewis believed he had favored early on. The 6-foot-6, 190-pound Lake Clifton graduate is headed to Pittsburgh.

“It feels good,” said Johnson, who will attend Brewster (N.H.) Academy this fall. “They were there from Day One. I just really knew I was No. 1 for them.”

Johnson is the fourth Baltimore native to join the Panthers in the past three years. Guards Jermaine Dixon and Chase Adams (Mount St. Joseph) graduated in the spring, while former City forward Aron Nwankwo will walk-on at Pitt this fall.

Johnson spent his freshman year at St. Frances and his sophomore and junior seasons at Parkville. He transferred to Lake Clifton for his senior year, teaming with top-ranked point guard Josh Selby in hopes of leading the Lakers to their second straight Class 3A state title. While the Kansas-bound Selby put up big numbers, Johnson faded to the background and Lake Clifton fell short of its championship goals.

“At Lake Clifton, it was different playing with a score-first point guard like Josh,” said Johnson, who averaged about 15 points as a senior. “It really humbled me, not getting touches. It was basically a learning experience, just something I had to go through. But I was used to being the man, scoring and making plays. So by [Selby] being that player, it just made me rebound and get more defensive stops. It made my all-around game better.”

When Johnson hit the AAU circuit with Cecil Kirk in the spring, however, it was business as the usual for the three-star prospect. He quickly resumed his role as the club’s top offensive threat. College coaches and scouts couldn’t help but notice.

“First of all, the guy does one thing at an extremely high level: he scores,” said analyst Dave Telep. “And because he has been underappreciated, he has this constant chip on his shoulder. And to me, that almost defines what Pittsburgh guys are. I think Durand Johnson will have a pretty good college career. He’s a junkyard dog, exactly the kind of talent they like.”

Telep said Johnson’s size and versatility will allow him to play either shooting guard or small forward in college. He should have no trouble defending either position, and “he flat-out knows how to score.” analyst Van Coleman acknowledged that Johnson needs to add strength during his time at Brewster, but his athleticism and competitiveness should serve him well right from the start.

“He’s an excellent shooter and he’s a big kid who can put it on the floor,” Coleman said. “He can play the 2/3 and can guard the 2, 3 and 4 positions. He’s a quick competitor who can really shoot the basketball. He came out in the middle of the summer and shot the ball. So I think you’re going to see him in a lot of Top 100 lists when they’re done in a couple weeks.”

Johnson knows his time at prep school will be crucial for his development. Based on recommendations from Baltimore natives Will Barton and C.J. Fair, he’s confident that the Brewster coaching staff will prepare him for his college career. That’s something the Pitt coaches are counting on.

“They basically said I’ve got to come in and be ready to play,” Johnson said. “They’re losing both their wings, Gilbert Brown and Brad Wanamaker, so I can come in and make an impact and be ready to play. I’ve got to go in and work hard, and get a college-ready body so I can come in to the Big East and be ready to play right away. It’s going to be big.”

Handout photo courtesy of Durand Johnson.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:23 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Local recruiting


Congrads Pee Wee big things happen when you stay focus!!!

This kid was a flat our scorer.
Saw him many times this summer in New Jersey and W. Va. He just flat out can get buckets. He is a slasher or will pull up and drop a 3 on you. Kinda a poor man 's Rudy Gay, but with a better jump shot. Will need to work on attitude.

At times he will do some dumb stuff on the court. Bad fouls / talking junk/ etc.

Hopefully he will grow up....

I have been to every game this young man has played. Never thought of him having a attitude.He does however play with passion.He is a team player and he showed that at Lake Clifton playing with Josh Selby.He young and he will grow because he has a good supportive family.

So Good luck Pee Wee!!!!!!!

Congrats always feel good to see young black talent coming straight outta Baltimore

Congrats to this young man and I wish well for him. But nobody seems to have a problem with our kids not being eligible to enter college directly. Catholic School, County School and City School, but still needs Prep School? Please parents, stress the importance of an eduation, and keep our kids focused on academics as well as athletics.

Just for the record, Pee Wee was eligible to go straight to Pitt, but decided to go Prep to get bigger, faster, and stronger so that he can come right in to Pitt and be an immediate contributor to the program. This guy has a tremendous support system who has done right by him academically and athletically.

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About Matt Bracken

Matt Bracken was a lightly recruited football and tennis prospect out of East Lansing (Mich.) High School in 2001, but spurned all (nonexistent) scholarship offers to attend the University of Michigan. Matt graduated from UM in 2005, earned a master's degree in new media journalism from Northwestern University in 2006, and spent the first 11 months of his career as an online producer / videographer / blogger at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. He has worked at The Baltimore Sun since July 2007, where he currently serves as the deputy sports editor for digital.

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