Gilbert’s Nick Johnson is a big catch for UA basketball

Sean Miller just landed one of the best combo guards in the country for his 2011 recruiting class at University of Arizona.  And, at the same time, may have added a ‘recruiter’ with more influence than anyone on his coaching staff.

Nick Johnson, a local product out of Gilbert, is the No. 8-ranked shooting guard in the country.  He has been on the Wildcat radar since he was in eighth grade, and Miller and his staff intensified the recruiting effort when they took over 16 months ago.

The 6’3″, 185-pounder is a match-up nightmare for opponents.  He can drive the lane, shoot the short jumper, and score from behind the arc.  And he will bring a defensive intensity to the team that will fit perfectly with the man-to-man defense that Miller prefers.

But he may bring more than that.  His popularity and influence with other top-flight recruits may attract several more to Tucson.

Johnson, who has been playing for Findlay Prep in Nevada after transferring there from Gilbert Highlands HS, has already talked about bringing along a couple of teammates from his summer team: Josiah Turner from Sacramento and Brandon Ashley from Oakland.

Turner, a point guard from Sacramento who has also been heavily recruited by the Wildcats, has reportedly put them on his short list that includes Kansas and Louisville.  He has an official visit to the Tucson campus scheduled for late October.

But Miller and his staff are hoping Turner takes a cue from Johnson and decides sooner than that.  Johnson had an unofficial visit with the Cats scheduled for Sept. 4, but decided not to wait.  He and his mother showed up on Miller’s doorstep to surprise the coach with his early decision.

“The intensity of my recruitment really picked up over the summer, so I wanted to end it,” Johnson was quoted in an ESPN article.  “So, me and my mom drove over to campus and surprised Coach Miller.”

He was also hedging his bets somewhat, knowing that there aren’t many scholarships still available for the 2011 class.

Miller is hoping for yet another surprise that might be a little more likely now that Johnson has committed.  The second-year head coach has had Mesa HS guard, Jahii Carson, at the top of his hit list for some time.

The addition of Carson, a four-star point guard rated No. 10 at his position, would give the Cats a home-grown back court, not only giving them a potent offense, but helping to draw hometown fans to the games.

And Daniel Bejarano will already have been there a year, giving the Arizona fans a look at one of the best local players.  Bejarano, a combo guard from North High School in Phoenix, was the No. 1 prospect in the state when he committed for this season.

Meanwhile, the Cats earlier wrapped up another Johnson.  Sidiki Johnson is a 6’9″, 220 lb. wing from New York City.  And that Johnson, too, is busy trying to help Miller stock the cupboard for 2011.

Sikiki Johnson, who committed earlier this sumer, will be attending Oak Hill Academy in Virginia for his senior year.  And so will Quinn Cook, who is also on Miller’s wish list.

Cook is a Top 25 prospect from Maryland that has Arizona on his short list of possible landing sites after high school.  Cook, a top-rated point guard from Washington, D.C.,  asked Johnson to join his summer team for a tournament.  Now Johnson is suggesting Cook consider joining his new team.

And Cook also played on the same summer team as Josiah Turner.  See how it all fits together?

Maybe Miller and his staff should just step back and let the new kids take over the recruiting.  Sounds like they have their own ideas about how to build that 2011-12 squad.