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Discovering a Diamond

Coaches rarely tell their players to be more selfish. But last night, Jim Boeheim did with Wes Johnson.

Coaches rarely tell their players to be more selfish. But last night, Jim Boeheim did.

“He told me to be the leader and go out there and be dominant,” said Wes Johnson after SU grabbed its first Big East win of the year.

How about Johnson’s line? The transfer appeased Boeheim, going for 20 points and a career-high 19 boards in the win at Seton Hall.

It’s interesting that Boeheim would tell a player to get his, and imploring a transfer to take over is even more interesting.

The Per’fesser rarely takes refugees into the Carrier Dome, let alone have them become the starter. But that’s exactly what has happened with a player some are calling a Top-5 NBA draft pick.

So how did he get here?

Mike Waters gave a brief overview of how Johnson was lightly recruitedand ended up at prep school to develop an offer sheet. But why?

At Corsicana High School in Texas, he averaged 15-10-4 in his senior season. Not awful, but also not the most blaring stat line for a forward in the Lone Star state.

There was also his height. In fact, he was shorter than I was (6’2″ vs. 6’3″- I still have a chance!) his senior year. Barely a 2-star recruit, Johnson didn’t have many offers before he attended two prep schools.

After his first year at Iowa State, he was still being overshadowed, but not because of any measurables. He grew, he averaged 12 and 8, but there was still some other freshman making waves in the Big 12 and across the country. His name? Kevin Durant.

In fact, Johnson outplayed Durant when the two went at it back in ’07.Johnson shot 8 of 12 for 17 points and 8 boards, while it took Durant 16 shots to get the same amount.

There was the “deterioration” of his relationship with his coach at Iowa State, and then Rob Murphy found Johnson in a gym after his decision to transfer. The rest is history.

His road was different, but he’s here. And ‘Cuse fans better enjoy him while he is wearing Orange, because the way he’s playing now, he may not be for long.

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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