Notre Dame Basketball

Top Programs, Including Notre Dame Still After Puff Johnson

July 15, 2019
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Donovan “Puff” Johnson could end up being a late-bloomer like his brother, but college programs aren’t going to wait around to find out this time.

Johnson’s brother, Cam Johnson, initially attended Pitt before transferring to North Carolina and exploding onto the scene. He was selected with the 11th overall pick by the Phoenix Suns in last week’s NBA Draft.

“I think if you’re looking at Cam and where he was at the same age, I think Puff may be a little bit ahead,” says Tom Droney, who coaches Johnson with the Wildcats Select in the adidas Gauntlet Series.

“Cam didn’t really come into his own until his senior year. He was obviously a late bloomer. I think a lot of these schools don’t want to make that same mistake, so they’re jumping on Puff before he blows up.”

And Puff has already given schools like Notre Dame, North Carolina, Arizona and Pitt plenty of reasons to extend the offers they have.

“He’s a versatile player,” Droney says. “He can play a couple of positions, can guard a couple positions. He’s not the strongest kid, but he’s got some toughness to him. He can guard 4s, he can guard 3s. He’s got a sweet shooting stroke, much like his older brother. The only difference is obviously he’s left-handed.

“Very, very long arms. I think he’s got a 7-1 wingspan, very long arms. He’s obviously got room to grow. He’s just going to keep getting a little better. I think he could grow a little bit more too. He’s about 6-6.5, 6-7. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him be 6-8 or 6-9 when it’s all said and done.”

Droney believes that skillset and versatility would translate well into Mike Brey’s system at Notre Dame.

“Obviously, Coach Brey likes guys who can shoot the basketball,” he says. “He can definitely bring that to the table. As a person, he’s got very high character and is a very bright kid, a 4.0-student. So, you’re getting the best of both worlds with Puff.”

Johnson took an official visit to South Bend at the beginning of last month and give it high marks afterward.

“I think he’s open to a number of schools,” Droney says. “The fact that he’s been able to get on campus so quickly, I think he’s definitely, definitely interested in Notre Dame.

“Notre Dame speaks for itself on the court, off the court. It’s a beautiful school and Coach Brey has just done a really, really good job there.”

Droney only sees positives when it comes to having a brother who has enjoyed so much success in the game already.

“I don’t know if there’s necessarily a downside. I think you’re able to grow up and watch your older brother and how he had to handle everything and go through the process. Maybe (Cam) didn’t go the most conventional way of getting to where he wanted to go. I think he learned a lot by watching that and now he’s going to apply all of the things he learned through his brother’s process into his own process.”

Johnson said he didn’t have a timeline for a final decision. There has been conflicting reports on whether Johnson has completely closed the door on reclassifying in the Class of 2019 or remaining in the Class of 2020.

The Pennsylvania athletic association has ruled Johnson ineligible for his senior season at Moon Area High School since he repeated eighth grade and the state doesn’t allow athletes to play more than six seasons after the sixth grade.

He could also choose to head to college early or he could play at a prep school.

Puff Johnson Gives ND Official High Marks

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Top Programs, Including Notre Dame Still After Puff Johnson

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