Demarquise Johnson – considered a top 2012 recruiting target for Washington, Washington State and Gonazaga – had the in-state rivals and their respective fan bases on edge for weeks.
The 6-foot-5, 185-pound shooting guard from Pontiac, Mich. spent the past couple of weeks contemplating the choices before making a decision.
Johnson made up his mind Friday night and announced this morning he’s going to sign with Washington State.
“It’s somewhere that I can play right away,” he said during a telephone conversation. “I can get recognized. And it’s a good fit for me.”
Johnson said UW finished second, followed by Gonzaga and UNLV.
It’s a major recruiting victory for WSU coach Ken Bone, who also picked up a verbal commitment this week from Oakland big man Richard Longrus. The 6-7 forward picked WSU over Colorado and Stanford. Last week the Cougars secured Spokane small forward Brett Boese, who is considered a two-star recruit.
Johnson, who attends Westwind Prep Academy in Phoenix, is the biggest prize for WSU. He’s rated a four star prospect by Rivals while ESPN and Scout gave him three stars. He’s also the top prospect in Arizona.
When asked to describe his game, Johnson said: “Scorer.”
As a junior, he led Westwind to a 30-2 record and averaged 20.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists and 2.5 steals per game.
Johnson joins Westwind teammate Richard Peters, who also considered the Huskies before committing to the Cougars. However, he said Peters didn’t play a significant role in his decision.
He said the major factors were the chance to play early and the WSU’s development of former star Klay Thompson, who was taken 11th overall in last summer’s NBA draft.
“Going to the NBA is one of my goals,” Johnson said. “What they did with Klay that was important.”
Washington State started recruiting Johnson later than the others, but he developed a a strong rapport with Bone.
“I like the other coaches, but Bone kind of stood out,” Johnson said.
When asked about the phone call this morning to Bone, Johnson said: “I just told him and there was yelling. He was happy.”
Johnson’s decision leaves UW, Gonzaga and UNLV, the other school on his list, scrambling, but none more than the Huskies. Washington and Oregon are the only Pac-12 teams that have not received a verbal commitment as the Nov. 9-16 early signing period approaches.
Coach Lorenzo Romar said the 2012 recruiting class isn’t “critical,” however, Johnson was believed to be one of the top prospects on Washington’s list that also includes uncommitted big men Anthony Bennett, Zena Edosomwan and Landen Lucas. Edosomwan visited UW Oct. 22 and Landen is expected to make a trip Nov. 5.
Washington has also reportedly targeted 2012 wing Jordan Tebbutt, a three-star prospect from the Portland area who plays at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia.
Still losing Johnson hurts. Many recruiting analysts compared him to UW sophomore Terrence Ross, who is considered a first-round pick in next year’s NBA draft. The Huskies are expected to lose two seniors Scott Suggs and Darnell Gant. Point guards Abdul Gaddy and Tony Wroten Jr. are also candidates to leave school early for the NBA.
Meanwhile Washington State is stockpiling talent across the mountains. Bone has compiled a 2012 recruiting class that ranks among the top four in the conference after Arizona, UCLA and Colorado.
October 22, 2011 at 11:19 AM
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