The Wolverine

June July 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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JUNE/JULY 2018 THE WOLVERINE 43   2018 BASKETBALL RECRUITING ISSUE "He's very good down low on the block. He can get a snarl to him. When his motor is running high, he's unstoppable. He shot 72 percent on two-point field goals. He has a nice turnaround [jumper]. He has a nice crossover dribble and flash to the goal. He's very good at that." "Brandon Johns is college ready," former Wolverine and basketball ana- lyst Tim McCormick added. "He's got a great body, he's athletic, he's tough, he knows how to play. "He comes from a really good high school system, and they have a need for him to play a lot of minutes." The Spartans felt the need as well. Johns stood surrounded by MSU fans, including his dad, Brandon Johns Sr., who raised him steeped in green and white. Ultimately, his son bolted for the other side of state's scorching bas- ketball rivalry. "I fit in perfectly with John Beilein's system," Johns said. "Everything was perfect for me — the coaching style, the playing style, the school. It was a sign for me. That's the perfect place for me to go." One man's perfection begets an- other man's immaturity. While Johns' family and close friends embraced his decision, some in the community did not. "A lot of people were hurt about it," Johns recalled. "They were kind of upset. In the end, I didn't really care that much. It's my decision, and what I'm doing with my life. I have to do what I have to do. "Obviously, it hurt a little bit, to see just how much hate people have in them for a 17-year-old kid trying to make a decision for their own life. It's kind of disappointing." The turndown call to Izzo also proved tough. "He obviously was upset about it," Johns recalled. "But I have much re- spect for their program and for Coach Izzo. I decided to go my own way." Now, he's looking to go his way past defenders at the next level. He's worked hard on his strength, but can't wait for Michigan strength and condi- tioning coach Jon Sanderson's before- and-after results. "I'm a pretty versatile player," Johns assured. "If I have an under- sized player on me, I can take them in the post. If I have a bigger player on me, I can take them outside. I can shoot decently well. The way I attack the basket is pretty good. "I worked on getting past defend- ers and trying to explode toward the basket, not letting anybody stop me. I was in the weight room a lot during the summer, trying to get stronger. I can pummel through people to get to the basket any way I can." Johns indicated he noticed one for- mer Wolverine in particular that stood out to him as a fair comparison. "D.J. Wilson was a seller for me," Johns noted. "We kind of play alike. It was a perfect example of what a versatile program could do with those skills." "He's a guy who can stretch the court, and he can rebound," Craw- ford assured. "When he rebounds, I call them those Cazzie Russell rebounds. He plucks the ball. He spears it out of the air and slams it against the other hand, that kind of aggressive rebound. "He turns, and looks, and can take it down the court by himself. He's that good of a ball handler. He slides to the wing, and he can catch and shoot. But he can dribble-drive and finish around the rim." Johns stood tall during a tough sit- uation toward the end of his senior season. East Lansing coach Steve Fin- amore found himself suspended for one contest after a postgame verbal exchange with a parent. Finamore ul- timately opted to resign his position. The senior didn't let emotion get in the way of continuing to battle on the court. "Brandon showed great leader- ship through that process," Crawford said. "When Kevin Mayes came on [to replace Finamore], it was a really smooth transition. They got all the way to the quarterfinals and lost to a pretty good Holland West Ottawa team." "I had the mindset of, yeah, we had a change in the system, but the games aren't going to stop," Johns said. "I'm not going to stop how I'm playing, just because something hap- pened. "I still want to get where I want to get and everybody else did, too." Now he's gotten precisely where he wanted to go, showing strength down the prep stretch and in se- lecting a university. Brandon Johns Sr., meanwhile, is strengthening his maize-and-blue collection. "Oh yeah," his son assured. "He's already sporting it a little bit. That's pretty cool. He'll be doing it. "He was happy for me, regardless. He's just proud of me for how far I've come. I made that huge decision and got all that weight off my shoul- ders. He was happy about it." The Johns family has more than a little company inside Crisler Center. ❏ Johns on picking U-M over MSU "It's my decision, and what I'm doing with my life. I have to do what I have to do." During his senior season at East Lansing (Mich.) High, Johns averaged 28.1 points, 11.3 rebounds, 4.0 blocks and 2.4 assists per contest. PHOTO COURTESY HAVILAH JOHNS

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