Varsity Preps

Humble And Hungry For The Game Of Basketball

                                                                                                                                     

If you want something great in life, you have to fight for it. What I’m referring to is the need to cultivate your desire for success. When you are in a fight for something, it is as if it will take everything out of you to get to the point you are striving for and when your passion outweighs your exhaustion in your pursuit to achieve your goal you are fully aware that you have a burning appetite to be the best.

No one embodies this more than Shane Johnson. He is anything but normal; he’s a rebel against being regular. Growing up the youngest of three siblings in which two of the three play division one athletics his Brother Stephen Johnson II (currently the Quarterback for the Kentucky Wildcats in the SEC) and Sister Sydney Johnson (Starting Forward/Midfielder for the University Of Southern California) it wasn’t easy to live up to competition in his own house hold however Shane has found his athletic passion playing basketball and is willing to do what others don’t. 

Shane attends Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga, California.  He is a 6’3 170 pound Sharpshooter!  Shane can play point guard or Shooting guard. He’s a sharp shooter who can pull from anywhere on the court, he has a vicious and consistent handle. He can shoot off the dribble, catch and shoot off screens; finish with both hands, very good court vision, he plays both ends of the court and is willing to take a charge whenever the situation presents itself.  

In one word his game is “Smooth” but one of the best things that I found out about Shane Johnson was from his father Stephen Johnson who said “Shane is humble enough to know he can get better but hungry enough to study the game and put in the work”.

 

WHY DID YOU START PLAYING BASKETBALL?  I love the game. I grew up around the game. My uncle is a basketball coach. It’s a sport that I enjoy playing and watching so I decided to pursue the game that I love.

On the scale of 1-10 how much do you love basketball?

 An 11! I just love being on the court and spending time in the gym playing and thinking about the game.

Who do you admire as a kid playing basketball?

Kobe Bryant, Manu Ganobli and Dwayne Wade because I think we have a lot of similarities in our game.

How are you similar?  He’s (Dwayne Wade) cool calm and collective on the court. He doesn’t show too much emotion but still get the job done.  And what was it about Kobe that attracted you to him? His attitude towards the game, his hatred for losing and his will to do anything to win!

What have you learned from watching Kobe Bryant’s will to win?

Work ethic! Studying Kobe has taught me so much. If you want to win you have to put in the work to win and it’s helped my game tremendously.

And Ginobili ?  Manu taught me how to be a great teammate, he does not always have the ball but he’s always moving and trying to find a way to get his teammates better and win.

Who is Shane Johnson on the court? Describe your game?

I am always moving without the ball and very poised on the court. My dad likes to call it smooth. I am a great passer and in my opinion my court vision is very good and I have an undeniable will to help my teammates win ball games.

What kind of guard are you?

I consider myself a combo-guard.  I see myself as a two-guard first and a point guard second. However I can still handle the rock, lead and facilitate the game.

As a point guard what concerns you the most?

Turnovers of course, and if I do turn it over it will come from being in control and making an aggressive play instead of being lazy with the ball.

What type of offense do you like to play in?

I prepare to excel and be comfortable running any offense. On the other hand, I love transition offense, pick and roll is my second favorite because I enjoy making the game easy by getting my big’s involved.

Strategically as a shooting guard what are you looking for from the defenders as your coming off a pick to shoot the ball?

I am watching film to see what their coach likes to do and in-game. I am analyzing the defenders to see what they’re going to do. Will they double team, switch, or see how far off is the defender is so I can get my shot off. I think those are some of the key elements I think about that make me a good shooter.

How important is it for a player to have sweet spots on the floor?

Oh, very important, I have five spots on the court that I can shoot with comfort. They help you when you are in a slump and when you need a bucket to stop a team from going on a run. It’s a place I go to get in rhythm and to maintain my confidence when I am on the offensive side on of the floor.

How often do you work on them?

I work on them all the time with the intent to master them, but my objective first and foremost when I go into the gym is to work on my total game. I work five days a week with my Trainer Keith Howard and we work on different ways to get my shot off along with my sweet spots as well. Keith and I spend countless hours on muscle memory drills that help my overall game.

What is the primary focus of your workouts?

Well, Keith Is good friends with my high School coach and he understands our schemes, so along with improving my personal game we add the team concepts into are sessions so I can play at a maximum level for my High School and travel ball team.

 

We are now in the day and age where the lines are blurred when it comes to being a point-guard who passes first, instead today’s guards think too shoot before the pass which in-turn makes basketball more of an offensive game so much so that it’s hard to remember who won the NBA defensive player of the Year award for the last five years. It wasn’t long ago when players like Dennis Rodman, Gary Payton and Michael Jordan were recipients of this award.   Therefore, I had to find out if playing defense was a part of Shane Johnson’s game.

 

 

 

 

Most high School players don’t play both sides of the floor, how are you as a defender?

Defense is the key to winning games. Everyone needs to be on the same page communicating to one another that why as one of the leaders on my team I make it my goal to be not only friends but a great teammate to my team so we can connect on defense and win games.

Who are you mentally when it’s late in the game and your team is down?

I like to stay calm so my team doesn’t see panic and I stay focused on leading us back to get the win.

Obviously, basketball is a team game. However, when your team is down can your coach come to you when the team needs a bucket?

Definitely he can. I like to see myself as a player that can score when the coach ask him too.

 What gives you that level of comfort at the end of games or when your team is down to be able to answer the bell for your coach when he calls upon you to do so?

It’s the countless hours in the gym working on my craft. For example, if I am having a bad shooting night I know how to get us back in the game by defensively taking charges, assisting my teammates and getting the ball to the players that are having success on the court. So, I don’t think taking over the game is just based off of just scoring I can do multiple things to help take over the game.

 

In the off-season the work does not stop for Shane Johnson in his relentless effort to get better as basketball player.  Since the 8th grade travel’s approximately 53 miles into the city of Los Angeles to work on his game with Uncle Jamal Adams ( 12 year Head Coach of Loyola High School) who according to the Los Angeles times has 15 plus players on several collegiate rosters last season. 

Plus, for the past 3 years Shane also trains with Rasheed Hazzard (2-time NBA Championship assistant Coach with the Lakers, Current New York Knick assist coach and son of the late UCLA legend Walt Hazzard) Adams and Hazzard who are very good friends and coaching colleagues have helped develop Shane’s mental and physical approach to the game of basketball.

 

Do you think Shane is good enough to play division one basketball player?

I definitely believe he is a collegiate basketball player, candidly I think it’s about finding the right fit for him. One of his recruitable skills will be his ability to catch and shoot he can do that real well. I think it will take a coach that can see the nuances in his ability and that can project that can be interested in him and as of right now if he can put the ball on the floor more continue to move towards more of a combo guard in July I believe he can open up his recruiting .

Describe Shane’s work ethic on his jump shot?

Shooters are made from the feet up and we spend a lot of time on his feet, 10 toes to the basket, make sure his feet are underneath him, his shoulders are square to the basket and you let it go.  So, I think guys like Shane, that can play off a penetrator and catch and shoot there is value and I think that’s where Shane is.

Speak to Shane’s mental toughness that has developed through his work ethic?

Well Shane has never lacked confidence! He’s competitive as hell, he’s always been that way, he doesn’t give an inch.  What was amazing about Shane was when he was little he come by and I would teach him and tell him to work on it at home and do it 100 times, well his dad Stephen would call me and tell me Shane had done it 500 times and the next time I saw him he had already owned the move I had taught him. He’s a very bright kid that picks things up fast, you only have to tell Shane something once maybe twice and he’s got it. He is very quick to pick up information and assimilate it, and I think that is another underrated skill.

What is your direct relationship with the Legendary UCLA and Laker great Walt Hazard?

Well, his son Rasheed and I are good friends. I grew up with the Hazard’s those are my friends in High School and middle school. I remember being at UCLA with Rasheed and his dad when he used to coach at UCLA going to practice and being a ball boy. I have been around basketball a long time and having been a coach for 12 years and having a lot of kids that have done some really great things.  So I think kids like Shane that can pick things up and are coachable and will allow you to critic them without getting their feelings hurt and then assimilate it into their game are a rare-breed and a diamond in the rough and I think that’s another one of Shane’s biggest assets.

 What is one Thing College coaches should know about Shane Johnson?

That his best basketball is in front of him verses behind him and I think that is a very important trait for college coaches to hear and see and I think that is something Shane should be very proud of and the more he is exposed to high level basketball the better he will become. 

 

Before the start of his summer training and various AAU tournaments Shane and his family went on a mission trip to Belize, too help those in need and to spread the good news of Christ Jesus. We discussed the trip and much more with Shane.

 

What did you take away from the mission trip to Belize?

I learned that it’s a different level of hard work when it comes to survival. The people of Belize work hard just to stay alive and despite their circumstances they were still in good spirits and were happy to see us and welcomed our support. It sent home the message to continue to be grateful for what you have because not every day is promised.

What can you take away from this trip and bring back to your team as a leader?

That it is not just about me! I was never a “me guy” but it was consistent with what I was taught by my parents that through sacrificing for one another and hard work together we can all win.

 After spending hours in the gym working on your game but especially your jump shot, have you ever been in the zone?

Yes I have and it’s a great feeling.  Every time I shoot it I believe it’s going to go in. There is a confidence I have that I have comes with the work I put in. It was in a game last season against Tahquitz high school in Hemet.  I hit ten 3-pointers. I just knew everything that left my hand went in.  

What does that feel like?

It feels like you can beat the whole team by yourself because your teammates are feeding you the ball every time down, their excited, the crowd is hyped and every shot you take is going in.

During your high schools season do you like playing home or away?

Well in the playoffs I love playing away. I just love playing against a different crowd. I love quieting the crowd after hitting an “ICE ‘’ Three.

What part of your game have you been working?

My off the dribble shooting, I have a very strong handle now. I love running point guard, it just helps me with all aspects of basketball. Like Steph Curry , it’s easy to get open now and hit my shot.

Now that your handle has improved, and without giving away all your secrets what is one of your dribble combinations you like to use?

Oh definitely the step back, I have a good step back.  C’mon Really?  Can you double cross with a step back?   All of it, moving either way, right to left or right to left making a move and then step back I can get basically anybody with that move.

Have you ever made the crowd go oooh?

Yeah, it was a great feeling too!!! What dribble combination did you use? Behind the back crossover and then step back, yeah like I said it was a great feeling. For two or for three?  For three (As Shane laughs with confident smirk on his face like Drake after a Meek Mill diss-record)

 For someone who works as hard as you do and for all the success you have seen on the court because of the work you have put in. How do you balance staying humble towards the people that doubt you because of your size or etc?

I think there’s times when you make a good play and you get a little out of control and you look a little crazy but knowing who you are and staying within yourself despite all the haters and doubters; having a great attitude about yourself will cancel out anything people have to say about you and finding out who you are is a great thing and in the past two years I have become so grateful for basketball period that Jesus has help me become humble and Hungry.

 Shane what is your overall Grade Point Average?

Overall 3.6 GPA

If not basketball what other career has your interest?

I’m considering sports psychology; I believe it will be a great career for me. I really enjoy psychology, I took in high school it was one of my favorite classes.  The study of people and the way they think helps me understand myself, others and it opens your mind to different aspects of way people think and live life.

When it comes to discipline and work ethic Shane, what did you have to give up socially too become an excellent shooter and even all-around basketball player?

A small part of my social life maybe. No partying, but having friends around you that have the same goals as you  makes it easier so you would not have to give up certain stuff because all the people around me do the same things that i love to do.  So, I don’t see myself as giving up a lot because I have such great friends that all want to be great at basketball, being great people having a great life, great faith and I believe that giving up certain things is a part of being great at what you do! So, because of the friends I pick I haven’t had to give up to much of anything.

How important is you faith to your game and to your who you are as a person?

It’s very important because it keeps me from getting to big-headed and it reminds me about the foundation my family is built on. It’s taught me how to respect others and its help me become the person I have become today.

This Weekend July 20-24 in Las Vegas at the Adidas Summer Uprising Tournament, Adidas will be showcasing five days of the top prep basketball teams and players and Shane will be showcasing  just how talented and hungry he is.

 

 

 

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