February 2, 2014

Johnson to the point

Kevin McCarthy

So many graduating prep talents require time to develop the strength, body and focus necessary for collegiate competition. All this plus the requisite skills. Such won't be the case for Granada High and Lakeshow 2015 talent Kameron Johnson, and this will make the junior's recruiting process fascinating to watch.

photo of  Kameron Johnson

An East Bay Athletic League First team honoree as a sophomore and the most valuable player in a recent tournament held at Cloverdale High, the 6-foot-1, 190 pound Johnson has already posted 27 points against California plus 24 versus slow-it-down De La Salle this season. But that's not what he holds as his best skill:

“I would say my [basketball] IQ and my strength. I'm 190 pounds and can post up my opponent.” That strength also helps him in finishing on dribble-drives.

Asked to what does he attribute his court smarts to, Johnson said, “my father [Mike Johnson, who coaches on the girls side at Granada] has about a two hundred basketball DVDs.” It's been a combination of watching those skill development and strategy visuals plus “I can get in the gym a lot.”

But Johnson's versatility and willingness to do whatever it takes to put his team in the best position for success has also contributed to his court savviness.

He was positioned at the point as a freshman. As a sophomore, Granada was small so Johnson played the post until late in game and then he would revert to being the one. This season, it's been a combination of time at both shooting guard and point.

Johnson has also often played up. He's been a Granada varsity performer since his freshman year and his summer/spring involvement has often been against upper division opponents. With the latter, a lot of losses resulted early on but it was a philosophy of ‘to be your best, play the best’ and going up against Stanley Johnson, Elliott Pitts, Shon Briggs was a learning experience. His alignment with Lakeshow promoted “playing against the best competition he's ever faced,” Mike Johnson said. All of a sudden, Rick Pitino, Mike Montgomery, Roy Williams and Buzz Williams were in the stands checking out talent.

Lakeshow Coach Joe Fuca offer this on his court leader: “Kameron has taken the best route to becoming a premier point guard. Over the the three years he has been with Lakeshow, he has shown he can be a dominant scorer, inside post player, strong defensive player, and a physical rebounder. He is one of the areas strongest point guards physically and he will have a great AAU season this spring. Kameron is a big reason why the Lakeshow 2015 class has been ranked nationally for the last two years. He has been a true leader on the court in big wins over other nationally-ranked teams like Dream Vision, Utah Pump N Run, Oakland Soldiers, and Double Pump Elite. When the team needs a big shot, Kameron usually comes up with it. As he moves into the point gaurd slot this spring, it will great to see him go for his true college position. Kameron is currently being recruited by several DI schools in the Big West, WCC, and Mountain West. The best thing about Kameron is his character because he has a strong work ethic and he is has a great attitude when the chips are down and the going gets rough.”

What's interesting about both Johnson's currently being in the realm of basketball is that hoops wasn't necessarily the best sport of either when they started out.

“My Dad played baseball, football and basketball and was best at baseball and football. When I started out, I was better at baseball through the seventh grade. I wasn't that good at basketball.”

The younger Johnson played as a pitcher and outfielder but a requirement of chastity solely to baseball participation away from the high school ranks soured Johnson on the diamond participation and he diverted his attention to hoops.

He cites his father as one of his biggest basketball influences but also another intriguing hoops figure.

“I played earlier for the DI All Stars and Damon Harge was the coach. His son, Damon Harge Jr., played and he wasn't good at all. But he worked really hard. He motivated me.” Harge Jr. now is one of the top rated prospects in the 2018 class.

A query regarding his best moment on the court was answered with “when I was a freshman against Amador Valley. The game went into overtime and they were up by one with four seconds left. A teammate threw me the ball but I had to reach behind me to catch it. I was near midcourt and drove hard for a layin. I swear I did it with one dribble.” Granada won that one 58-57.

So who needs a tough, physical and intelligent point who prefers passing over shooting?