With the departure of CJ Gettys due to graduation, Rutgers desperately needed to find another big man to replace him in the paint next season. Today the program received good news, as 3-star forward Myles Johnson announced he was committing to Rutgers.
Signing a player out of high school this late in the recruiting cycle was a bit unexpected, but gives head coach Steve Pikiell a four year player who could become a big part of the future for the program. While Rutgers appears to be the only high major offer that Johnson received, a reason for that is he missed his entire junior season due to a broken kneecap. The injury seems to have resulted in Johnson falling off the radar of high major schools. He returned for his senior year and was a key player for Long Beach Poly, regularly registering double-double performances. In one of his last games of his high school career, Johnson produced a 8 point, 10 rebound, 7 block performance against Chino Hills, a nationally ranked top five team all season who feature top recruits LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball.
It’s easy to be skeptical of whether Johnson is a high major player, based on his offer list, which included Yale, Fordham, Lehigh, Cal-State Northridge. UC Santa Barbara and Western Kentucky. However, interest regarding Johnson picked up a couple of weeks ago after a strong performance at a recent AAU event.
6-9+ 2017 Myles Johnson (Poly/Long Beach CA) impressive tonite in LA Rockfish win over Greenwood Elite/MI. True low-post with great grades— Dinos Trigonis (@trigonis30) April 29, 2017
Johnson told Adam Zagoria earlier this week that his final decision was between Hawaii, Georgia Tech and Rutgers. He needs to continue developing and is a bit of a project, but he has the potential to be a steady contributor to the program. Here are several reasons to be hopeful that it will happen.
He has grown 4 inches in just the past couple of years and he is still learning to play in his new body. Missing his entire junior season slowed his development. While low post players typically take longer to develop an offensive game, Johnson displays a nice touch near the rim. Tipping in missed shots is a strength and something Rutgers values highly after becoming the top offensive rebounding team in the Big Ten last season. Myles has a solid frame and there should be confidence that after time spent under the direction of strength and conditioning maven David Van Dyke, he has the potential to develop into a true Big Ten body. Assistant coach Jay Young also has a proven track record of developing low post players, as he was key in the rise of Stony Brook legend Jamaal Warney.
Johnson is also an excellent student and according to this profile, has held a 4.0 grade point average throughout his high school career. He has mentioned academics as a priority in his recruitment. Myles plans to major in engineering, an area in which Rutgers is held in high regard. His ability to focus on his education and bounce back from injury to produce a strong senior season speaks highly of his character. Players that have proven they are able to overcome adversity and obstacles along the way are key qualities for a program in major rebuilding mode like Rutgers.
Earlier this week I asked Joel Francisco, a longtime scout in the Southern California area and former writer for ESPN, on his thoughts on Johnson. Francisco has seen him play since his freshman season at Long Beach Poly, which he described as a “storied program that plays in the toughest division in all of California.” In terms of strengths, Francisco said Johnson has “great length and some of the best hands I've seen since Chris Webber. I’m not kidding, great hands. He is an exceptional passer and has a very high IQ for the game.” In regards to areas Johnson needs to improve on, Francisco said “he needs to be much more assertive and play nasty, which would help make up for his lack of athleticism. He also has a tendency to play in spurts.” In terms of the type of person that Johnson is, Francisco said he is a “great kid from a great family, is a high-level student and is very coachable.”
Although Johnson may be thought of as an “under the radar” project, there is a lot to like about his upside. With improved conditioning and a more advanced focus on his development, he has the potential to have a good career on the banks. You can’t teach height, touch, or character and Johnson brings all three to the table. If he can provide solid rebounding and defense as a freshman, he will be a welcome addition next season.
Johnson joins incoming freshman combo guard Geo Baker, JUCO transfer point guard Souf Mensah and Quinnipiac transfer guard Peter Kiss as newcomers on the roster next season. Kiss will need to sit out due to transfer rules, while the rest are eligible to play right away. Rutgers now has one remaining scholarship available for next season. Here is more on the latest addition to Rutgers basketball and welcome Myles Johnson!
Need a sturdy 2017 PF with high academics? Look no further than 6-9 Myles Johnson (Poly/Long Beach) Will be @ Pangos Sweet 16 w/ LA Rockfish— Dinos Trigonis (@trigonis30) April 17, 2017