The NBA’s eigth overall pick is hungry to prove his potential to the league, and is spending the summer honing his skills in LA’s Drew League.
One of America’s greatest pro-am basketball leagues is the Drew League, located in Los Angeles. Going strong since 1973, the league has grown from a mere six teams to over 20 and brings in some of the NBA’s premier talent summer after summer.
One of the new kids on the block, in both the Drew League and the NBA, is the Detroit Pistons’ Stanley Johnson, the 8th overall pick in June’s draft.
Johnson went one-and-done at Arizona under Coach Sean Miller — whom Johnson compares to a second father — after attending Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana. At Arizona, Johnson led his team in scoring and shot 37% from three, guiding the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament’s Elite 8, where they lost to eventual runners-up Wisconsin.
In the Drew League, Johnson has so far made a big impact, just as he did at Arizona. While he certainly doesn’t lack confidence — in May Johnson proclaimed himself the best player in the draft — or, standing 6 feet 7 inches and weighing 245 pounds, an NBA-ready body, whether his success will continue at the NBA level remains to be seen.
Johnson helped recruit several big names to his team, ICEO; Pistons teammate Andre Drummond, fellow former Wildcats Derrick Williams and Solomon Hill, and fellow Mater Dei alum Katin Reinhardt of USC were all brought on board with Johnson’s help.
I sat down with Johnson after ICEO took care of business at The Drew. We discussed the high-level pro-am league, his first summer as a pro, and his goals for the upcoming season. Spoiler: Johnson has towering expectations for himself and his team.
He’ll soon report to training camp for a young Pistons team that should compete for the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference, and a starting wing spot should be within Johnson’s grasp, especially if he performs well on the defensive end.
If you don’t plan on keeping tabs on Stanley Johnson this season you’re making a mistake, as he’s a not only a dark horse to win Rookie of the Year, but likely to be a highlight-reel favorite. If you need proof, just take a look at these clips, compiled from his Drew League performance against Baron Davis and Casper Ware‘s squad 7Outz.
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- Arizona State