Brandon Johns took off down the floor, knowing that with his long strides he would beat his Lansing (Mich.) Sexton opponents down the floor and get a chance at an easy dunk.
That’s exactly what happened. A gracious teammate tossed a lob off the glass and he rose up to finish it with authority, punctuating what would be an 87-62 win Friday for his East Lansing squad.
Twenty-point lead means a late-game dunking exhibition for Michigan State target Brandon Johns. pic.twitter.com/4zJ1h9hD6T
— Luke Srodulski (@lsrodulski) January 7, 2017
Just one game closer to taking care of that “Unfinished Business” referred to on the back of the Trojans’ warmup shirts. They finished last year with one loss on the season, and it came in season-ending fashion against Lansing Everett in the regional finals.
Johns, a 4-star junior forward, received interest from La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) Prep, which wanted him to transfer in. He could join fellow Michigan State targets Tyger Campbell (with whom he played on the Nike AAU circuit for Spiece Indy Heat) and Brian Bowen (a family friend).
The unfinished business is a big reason why he didn’t.
“I think we have a plan here,” he said, “and I think we can make it all the way again and go farther this time. That’s why (I stayed).”
Johns has done just fine bringing himself exposure. He ranks as the No. 46 player in the 2018 class, holds offers from Michigan State, Alabama and Iowa and said he has picked up interest from California, Florida State, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Purdue, Texas and Wisconsin.
Maybe that list would be a bit longer, but going to school with Michigan State housing just across the street might make it seem his mind is already made up.
“When we talk to coaches and stuff, they kind of assume, they hear that I’m locked in just because I live here,” he said. “They assume I’m locked in (to Michigan State). I’m still open. I’m still looking out.”
Just a couple miles away, another uber-talented stretch four, Michigan State freshman Miles Bridges, has gotten the nation’s attention. Johns plays a similar style, with a propensity for perimeter play, jaw-dropping dunks blocks at the rim and coast-to-coast drives.
“He can play any position,” East Lansing coach Steve Finamore said. “He can play point guard. He can play center. We like him to bring the ball up the court because the man that’s guarding him is probably going to be a big guy, and he won’t come out there and challenge him. We work on it every day.”
Though he can post up when called upon, Johns stuck mostly out on the perimeter against Sexton en route to a 26-point, 12-rebound game.
Ten of those points came from the free throw line, a result of his aggression shown through tough, crafty drives to the rim. Once he’s in the lane, he can finish over just about anyone with his 6-foot-7 length and long arms.
Most of all, he’s opportunistic. When Johns saw the chance for some easy buckets near the end of the game, he sprinted harder than anyone else to get down the floor and onto the end of lobs.
“There were a lot of fast breaks,” he said. “Those are easy dunks, so I might as well get them.”