Cal basketball recruiting prospect James Johnson was strolling the sidelines at Memorial Stadium before Saturday night’s football opener against Maryland when he got a surprise from the student rooting section.
“The whole student section was chanting, `James Johnson come to Cal.’ I didn’t know what they were talking about . . . that freaked me out at first,” Johnson told me this morning. “I turned around and waved.”
It may not be the last time Johnson acknowledges a Cal crowd. The 6-foot-9 power forward prospect from Elsinore HS came away impressed after his official campus visit this weekend. Johnson, rated the nation’s No. 21 prospect by Scout.com, said, “I learned everything I needed to about the school. It went really well.”
Johnson said he intends to take a scheduled trip to Virginia this weekend and likely will visit one more campus — either Oklahoma or Arizona — before making a decision in about two weeks. “There’s no reason to wait any longer,” he said.
Asked where Cal fits into his thinking, Johnson said, “They’re at the top of my list . . . very high.”
Johnson said he got to watch Cal’s players go through individual drills, spent time with forwards Harper Kamp and Jamal Boykin and had the opportunity to meet pretty much the entire roster.
“They really covered all the bases for me. I got a taste of every aspect,” Johnson said.
That included the campus and community. Johnson said he’d never attended a big-time college football before, and enjoyed the pre-game atmosphere.
“It was definitely kind of crazy walking around. It was the first game and there were crazy parties going everywhere,” he said. “I walked around the whole city pretty much. I thought it was fun.”
Johnson’s father, Ted, called it “a fantastic weekend,” adding, “They sure showed us a good time.”
Ted Johnson, who moved his family from Alberta, Canada to Southern California a year ago, arrived at Cal with questions stemming from Cal’s reputation as a bastion of liberalism. “They certainly alleviated some fears we had of Berkeley,” he said. “From a conservative standpoint, Berkeley seemed like the last place you’d want to send your kid. But talked to some professors and a lot of people and it was good.”