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What does Dior Johnson’s Oak Hill Departure Mean for SU?

Verbal 2022 five-star commit Dior Johnson has been sidelined with a stress fracture in his foot since mid-September. That was reportedly an extra precaution taken to make sure the Kingston, NY native did not miss any games for Oak Hill Academy. It turns out, Johnson might not play for the prep-school powerhouse after all. 

Head Coach Steve Smith said that Johnson’s status with the program was “at an impasse”. The point guard left campus, and is now home. 

Oak Hill is already Johnson’s fourth high school pit-stop. He began his career in Saugerties, transferred to IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL briefly before returning to his hometown school. Johnson then went west to Mayfair High School in Lakewood, CA. ESPN’s 11th best recruit for the Class of 2022 left because they were not playing a national schedule. Oak Hill seemed to have everything Johnson wanted. According to basketballelite.com, the Mouth of Wilson, VA high school is the 24th best prep program in the country.

Oak Hill also had Zion Cruz, another five-star guard that Syracuse is targeting. When Johnson verbally committed to the Orange in February, he pledged to recruit more talent with him. The idea of Johnson playing with Cruz at the same prep school that sent Carmelo Anthony to the Hill had Syracuse fans salivating

But that dream is dead. Johnson and Cruz will have to wait until college to join forces, assuming Cruz still comes to SU. In a recent interview with Rivals.com, ESPN’s 16th best 2022 recruit expressed his excitement for the upcoming two years with Johnson, but Cruz also said that loyalty is important to him. 

It all depends on the way you look at it. Maybe it’s a good thing that they won’t be playing together. Cruz is listed as a combo-guard, but insists that he is a point guard. Ball control could have caused some friction between the two. 

Johnson’s reasoning for leaving the program is still unknown, but there is no indication that Cruz had anything to do with it. Either way, this decision will have Syracuse fans pondering every scenario. 

There is still an outside chance that Johnson forgoes college, and opts for the NBA’s G-League, although he says he is still committed to Syracuse. Johnson entertained the idea of reclassifying to the Class of 2021 as well, which, assuming the junior will be one-and-done, would avoid any ball disputes he and Cruz might have. Instead, it would interfere with Joe Girard’s senior year. 

Syracuse fans should rest easy, however, knowing that Johnson’s relationship with assistant coach Gerry McNamara is still strong. Orange nation might be overreacting. Maybe this is just a homesick 16-year-old. 

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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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