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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Check out Arizona basketball’s future Friday night

Arizona basketball fans going through Nick Johnson or Aaron Gordon withdrawal can get their fix Friday night.

While Gordon and Nick Johnson left early for the NBA, Arizona has reloaded with a recruiting class ranked No. 3 by Scout and 247Sports and No. 6 by ESPN. Headlining the class is Stanley Johnson, who will be playing Friday night in the Jordan Brand Classic at 4 p.m. on ESPN2.

In 2014, Stanley Johnson’s highlights are easily accessible, of course — he’s certainly worth a Google — and though it’s only an all-star game, events like the JBC offer more realistic depictions of a player’s skills than YouTube mix tapes or regular-season high school games where the Stanley Johnsons are as big as the centers.

The JBC is Stanley Johnson’s third major all-star game, and after a couple of decent performances, the MaxPreps National Player of the Year is due for a breakout game.

In the McDonald’s All-American game, Stanley Johnson had decent stats, eight points and four rebounds, but his athleticism impressed many — including Sports Illustrated and Tony Jones, the Utah Jazz beat writer for the Salt Lake Tribune.

Jones tweeted: “Stanley Johnson might lead the Pac-12 in scoring as a freshman.”

The McDonald’s All-American game has the most cachet, but another reason to watch the Jordan Brand Classic is that the uniforms will surely be better. What the kids wore in the McD game looked like it was designed by Ronald McDonald.

Then a few days ago, Stanley Johnson helped lead the Americans to a win over the World Select Team in the Nike Hoop Summit.

Stanley Johnson scored seven points but — more importantly to Arizona fans — was 5-for-7 from the free throw line.

Gordon was hardly automatic from the charity stripe, while Nick Johnson was supremely clutch from the free throw line. Nick Johnson won Arizona games because of his free throw shooting, like when he made six free throws in the final 25 seconds to win at Michigan and was 10-for-10 in his free throw attempts in the Wildcats’ Sweet Sixteen win over San Diego State.

While Stanley Johnson is capable of impressive highlights — NBA Draft Express said the 6-foot-7, 17-year-old has a 6-foot-11 wingspan — UA fans might want to watch the Jordan Brand Classic to see him shoot free throws.

With Nick Johnson and Gordon gone, Stanley Johnson is a natural fit at the two guard. While Stanley Johnson is mostly listed as a small forward, he’s ranked as the No. 1 three by ESPN and No. 2 by Scout. He can certainly handle the ball well enough to play the two.

Arizona’s likely 2014-15 lineup of junior Kaleb Tarczewski or newly signed Serbian center Dusan Ristic, junior Brandon Ashley, sophomore Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Stanley Johnson and senior T.J. McConnell will be enough to lead the Wildcats to the top of the polls again.

If Zeus holds off the Serbian import and hangs on to his starting spot, then “Stan the Man” is the only likely starter Arizona fans are unfamiliar with.

A dose of ESPN’s No. 7 recruit is just what the doctor ordered for ailing Arizona fans.

—Follow James Kelley @JamesKelley520

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