Philadelphia wing attracting local schools

Lower Merion High School, just outside of Philadelphia, is most well known for producing NBA superstar Kobe Bryant. While Bryant is certainly the most famous basketball alum of the school, Lower Merion regularly churns out Division 1 players. The latest on that list is current junior BJ Johnson.

Hawk Hill Hardwood spoke with Lower Merion head coach Gregg Downer on Friday to get the latest on his star wing.

On the year, Lower Merion is 10-2, with one of those losses coming in their season opener against a talented Roman Catholic (PA) squad. Since then, the team has gone 11-1, and that is in large part thanks to the play of B.J. Johnson.

According to Coach Downer, Johnson checks in at "6'5 with length and great vertical jumping ability." For the Aces of Lower Merion, Johnson plays primarily at the small forward spot, but Downer says that colleges view him as more of a hybrid wing guard, able to play either shooting guard or small forward.

Possessing great athleticism, Downer said that Johnson is capable of making plays above the rim, but is more than just an athlete. "BJ is also a solid 3-point shooter," Downer explained.

His coach said that BJ has room for improvement however. In order for him to thrive on the perimeter in college, Downer said that "BJ needs to work on both his ball-handling and decision-making."

In addition to being a promising basketball player, Coach Downer also stressed Johnson's character, calling him a "great citizen and student with a terrific work ethic." That work ethic, combined with his shooting ability and natural athleticism, has the attention of at least three local coaches.

According to Downer, Johnson is being recruited by "Penn State, Saint Joseph's, La Salle, Temple, and Boston University." These five schools are likely to see company as Johnson continues to thrive this year. So far this year, according to his coach, he is averaging 18 points per contest.

Both Temple and Saint Joseph's had recent success recruiting out of Lower Merion. 2002 Lower Merion graduate Ryan Brooks starred at Temple under Fran Dunphy, while his high school classmate Garrett Williamson signed with Saint Joseph's, where he made a name for himself as an all-league defender.

In a 2013 recruiting class loaded in the city of Philadelphia, BJ Johnson is a name that may not have received quite as much attention as others. He is certainly a name to remember though as three Big 5 schools have him on their radar.

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