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April 20, 2013
GARDEN GROVE, Calif. -- The doors didn't open at the Next Level Sports Complex until 6 p.m. Pacific time Friday, but nearly half an hour before the first session of Nike EYBL tipped off, the line of college coaches waiting to see recruits inside wrapped around half the building. A who's who of North Carolina's Roy Williams, Indiana's Tom Crean, Michigan's John Beilein, Kentucky's John Calipari and many more piled into the gym and caught the first show of the April recruiting period.
Johnson closing in on a decision
After his team scraped out a big win over Mac Irvin Fire in Game 1, Oakland Soldiers stud and five-star forward Stanley Johnson talked a little recruiting.
He revealed a list of six and said he's getting closer to finally ending his recruiting process.
Asked to elaborate on each one, the 6-foot-6, 200-pound forward obliged.
"Arizona, they're a great staff. They've been recruiting me since I was a freshman. They offered me when I was a freshman. The coaches know everything about me at this point.
"Oregon, (Dana Altman) said he's going to give me the ball my freshman year. He sees me as a player who can get them from the Sweet 16 to the Final Four.
"Florida, they play my style. Coach (Rashon) Burno is a great recruiter. They can put me on the map.
"UCLA, I haven't met with them yet. (Steve Alford) is coming up; I saw (his team) play at New Mexico, and he did a great job.
"USC, Coach (Andy) Enfield, you already know: Dunk City. I want to play fast. He's hiring some really good coaches. They hired Tony Bland and Jason Hart, who I was really close with, so that's a big up for them.
"Kentucky, obviously Calipari. They win. I want to win. As a player, they play fast. I want to be a pro, and they give pros out. That's what I want to do in my career is be an NBA player. So going there would probably ensure that I'll be an NBA player."
Johnson will officially meet with UCLA's new coaching staff on campus in the first week of May, but he has no other visits planned. He's going to take his time evaluating his top six, and he hopes to have a decision prior to his senior season at Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei.
Rabb holds his own
For the first few minutes of the Oakland Soldiers vs. Mac Irvin Fire battle, a five-star matchup looked like a technical knockout. The No. 5 player in the 2014 class, Cliff Alexander, was matched up with the No. 1 player in the 2015 class, Ivan Rabb, and Alexander dominated.
He bullied Rabb, beating him up on the glass and in the paint.
But the five-star 2015 Rabb snapped out of it late in the first half and started throwing a few haymakers of his own. He did so well, in fact, that he ended up dwarfing Alexander's boxscore line by the end of the game.
Alexander finished with nine points and nine rebounds, while Rabb piled up 15 points and 19 boards against the big five-star.
"He's nice," Rabb said of Alexander after the game. "I earned everything I did out there tonight. I did better than I thought I would."
Chatman does some trimming
Johnson wasn't the only high-major West Coast wing doing a little list trimming this month.
Four-star Long Beach (Calif.) Poly forward Kameron Chatman said his list, while still somewhat open, is down to seven.
Of those schools, Chatman said, Michigan, Washington and Oregon are coming after him the hardest.
The most-attended game for college head coaches by far was the Mac Irvin Fire vs. Oakland Soldiers matchup. Head coaches in attendance to see five-stars Johnson and Rabb square off against five-star Alexander included Beilein, Crean, Alford, Calipari, VCU's Shaka Smart, Washington's Lorenzo Romar, Arizona's Sean Miller, Enfield and Memphis' Josh Pastner.
Five-star Mac Irvin Fire center Jahlil Okafor was supposed to play in the big game Friday night, but he said he will be out this weekend with a minor ankle injury. The 2014 No. 1 overall player said nothing is new with his recruitment, although he'll make a final school list "really soon."
Alexander said he has no favorites but Kentucky and Michigan State are recruiting him the hardest.
Four-star forward and No. 46 player in the nation Trevon Bluiett said he'll likely take an unofficial visit to UCLA on Sunday after the EYBL Los Angeles session wraps up. His former head coach at Indianapolis (Ind.) Park Tudor, Ed Schilling, is now Alford's lead assistant in Westwood.
St. John's NEWS