Texas Basketball Recruitment: Five-Star Guard AJ Johnson Signs Longhorns Over Louisville, LSU ` Texas

Texas picked up another high-profile basketball engagement Monday when five-star guard AJ Johnson announced his intention to play for the Longhorns. Ranked #14 overall prospect in the Class of 2023 by 247Sports, Johnson selected Texas over Louisville, LSU and professional options.

Johnson is considered the combo guard of Southern California Academy in Castaic, California. He recently transferred to the school after enrolling at Donda Academy, which closed after the school’s founder Ye, formerly Kanye West, came under fire for making offensive remarks. Johnson was also part of this year’s US basketball junior national team mini-camp.

At 6ft 5, Johnson’s height and length should be an advantage at the next level when playing on or off the ball for coach Chris Beard and the Longhorns. Here’s a deeper look at Johnson’s game from 247Sports Director of Scouting Adam Finkelstein:

Johnson is an aspiring big guard in the midst of a meteoric rise, yet has a wealth of untapped potential. There are tools to tick all the boxes when it comes to position size, length, athleticism, playmaking, and skill. He’s 6-foot-5-plus with long arms and legs. He plays with pace, is exceptionally fluid on the open ground and at times almost glides with the ball. He shoots a good ball from the outside and has a firm grip on both combination moves and stop-and-go tempo changes.

Chris Beard recruits well

With Johnson’s commitment, Texas’ 2023 recruit class jumps from 58th to 26th in the 247Sports team rankings. Johnson joins 6-8 power forward Ron Holland in the class. Holland is also a five-star prospect, making the Longhorns class a high-end transport despite being low in volume. Beard also received two five-star signings from the Class of 2022 in Dillon Mitchell and Arterio Morris, making Texas a top-signing destination early in his tenure.

While announcing his commitment to Texas, Johnson praised Beard and the Longhorns’ coaching staff.

“I just felt really comfortable with the decision because I’m really comfortable with the coaching staff,” Johnson told 247Sports. “The people who are there, I can see myself around them every day.

“I feel like our relationship is one of the best I’ve had of any head coach. We just talk a lot and he teaches me a lot, so I was most comfortable with[Beard]as my head coach.”

Last off the board

Johnson was the last five-star non-binding prospect in the class of 2023, according to 247Sports rankings. While a handful of top 100 prospects are yet to commit, they are all ranked 30th or lower. Essentially, the high stakes portion of this recruitment cycle is over for now. But as has become an annual tradition in the sport, some players from the Class of 2024 plan to reclassify to the Class of 2023 and announce their collegiate picks in the coming months, which will impact both team and league standings Player ranking could affect class.

room for improvement

Although Johnson looks like a player who can make a difference as a true freshman, his game remains a work in progress. Finkelstein detailed his areas for improvement in his scouting report.

Sometimes he can dance a little too much with his grip instead of getting straight to his line. Johnson is also still working on finding the balance between being aggressive with his own attack and creating for those around him, as he tends to go passive rather than staying in attack mode and reading where help is coming from. Above all, he needs to build up his body as he is very slim and often cannot play through contact at the moment. That can affect him at both ends of the floor, but especially as a finisher. At the same time, his overall motor skills, especially defensively, and his willingness to be physical need to become more constant. Overall, however, all the tools are in place for him to be one of the best players in the national league, not just guards. It’s all about him taking the next steps as his game and body mature.

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