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Rebels basketball:

Q&A with UNLV target Jaylen Johnson, a 4-star forward in the class of 2014

Johnson’s athleticism is noticeable but it was his passing that turned heads at the first day of the Adidas Super 64 at Rancho High


Steve Marcus

Jaylen Johnson, center, plays with the Dorians Pride team during the 2013 Adidas Super 64 summer tournament at Rancho High School Wednesday, July 24, 2013.

Basketball Recruiting at 2013 Adidas 64

Goodluck Okonoboh of Mass Rivals boxes out for a rebound during the Adidas Super 64 basketball tournament at Rancho High School, Wednesday, July 24, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Jaylen Johnson still has a lot of growing to do physically, if not also in the eyes of college coaches.

The class of 2014 forward from Michigan has made a name for himself this summer, picking up a scholarship offer from Michigan State to go along with ones from Iowa State and Oregon, among others, and yet it appears he may not be anywhere near his potential. Johnson, who’s listed at 6-foot-10 and 210 pounds, is only 16 years old and has broad shoulders that suggest he could add considerably more weight to his slight frame.

UNLV recently joined the fray of teams vying for his services and offered him a scholarship. New assistant Todd Simon, a Michigan native, is the primary contact, and Johnson is one of the main 2014 kids the coaching staff has its eyes on this week at Rancho High for the Adidas Super 64. UNLV coach Dave Rice watched his first game, an 81-63 victory against the Atlanta Celtics.

You started off Wednesday’s game by finishing an alley-oop dunk. Is that a regular occurrence?

We always do it. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but most of the time it does. We want to start off like that so we can break their momentum. Once we get their confidence low, we know we’ve got the game.

How have you felt the summer season has gone for you?

It’s been great. I’m getting a lot of rebounds, a lot of scoring and college coaches have been out to see my games.

Today you had a lot of nice passes. Is that something you consider a strength in your game?

That’s a strength and a main component. If I see you open, I’m going to give it to you. I’m not going to be a selfish player. I always get my teammates involved.

How much have you been to Las Vegas?

This is my third time this year. I was at Adidas Grassroots camp, I was just here for the LeBron James Skills Academy and now I’m here.

What’s your impression of the city?

It’s crazy, but it’s fun, though. It’s a fun place to be. It’s a good vacation place but also a good place to live.

You know 2014 UNLV commit Dwayne Morgan, right?

Yeah, we were on the same team at Pangos All-American camp. We don’t talk all the time, but every time we see each other we catch up. He told me he committed to UNLV.

Who are the main schools on your radar right now?

They all are the same amount right now. I guess Iowa State, Louisville, Michigan State and now UNLV is calling me a lot.

Click to enlarge photo

Jaylen Johnson, center, takes a shot during the 2013 Adidas Super 64 summer tournament at Rancho High School Wednesday, July 24, 2013.

What are the main things you’re looking for in a program?

A team that I can get cool with quick under good coaches and a place I can develop with and get to the next level.

So early playing time matters?

I don’t want any guarantees. I like working hard for my stuff.

Have you taken any unofficial visits?

Yeah, Iowa State, Xavier, Louisville and USC. I figure I’ll take some officials in September and narrow things down from there.

Do you see yourself signing in the early or late signing period?

It really doesn’t matter. After talking to my family, my church pastor and my brothers over there (motions towards Dorian’s Pride teammates), whenever a good decision comes I’m going to take it.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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