Back when Stanley Johnson first signed with the Arizona Wildcats our of Mater Dei High School, many expected he would be a one and done with the program. But that was not absolutely set in stone after Johnson’s freshman season came to an abrupt end in the elite eight.
Johnson spent almost a month weighing his options and there were some that believed after taking this long to decide, he might end up staying in Tucson another year.
On Thursday evening, Johnson announced that he will declare for the 2015 NBA Draft.
“You guys have made me feel very loved in my time here,” Johnson said. “The love and support I have received from our fan base has been very overwhelming. And I can’t thank you guys enough for that.”
“I have learned so much from our coaching staff and our people here in my first year at Arizona and it is memories that I will always have,” he added. “For those reasons and many more, this was definitely the toughest decision of my life.”
“After a lot of deliberation with my family and coaches and praying, I have decided to enter my name into the 2015 NBA Draft,” Johnson announced.
Johnson was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and became the second Wildcat to do so in as many years after Aaron Gordon also did so in 2013-14 and was also named First Team All-Pac-12. He led Arizona in scoring (13.8), was second in rebounding (6.5), second in steals per game (1.5) and shot 44.6% from the floor.
Johnson was one of two freshmen in the major college basketball conferences to average at least 13.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest. The other was Duke’s Jahlil Okafor.
“The bitter sweet part is that you’re not around these guys for long enough,” mentioned Arizona Head Coach Sean Miller. “You want to keep them and you almost get this relationship going before they get here in recruiting and then they go to battle for you…It’s not easy to say goodbye.”
“To come close to achieving our goals this season and to fall short made this decision even more difficult,” Johnson explained. “But I feel it is time to pursue my lifelong dream to play basketball at the highest level.”
According to Chad Ford of ESPN.com, Johnson is the 11th ranked prospect in the draft. His unique combination of his size (6-7, 245 pounds) and athleticism drew comparisons from the likes of Reggie Miller during the NCAA Tournament to Superstar Lebron James. This unique skill set will intrigue every NBA team and if he develops a more consistent outside shot, he could become one of the leagues elite players.
“I have no doubt, especially with the research that we did and Stanley’s family and our staff did, that he will enter the NBA at a time that is appropriate,” stated Miller. “And I think from his perspective, he will go on and do some great things.”
The Wildcats loss of Johnson also comes on the same day that highly coveted graduate transfer from Drexel, Damion Lee, announced he has committed to Louisville. Many believed that Arizona was a leader for Lee who visited Tucson before visiting Louisville last weekend.