Editor's Note: We caught up with Darin before and after the news that he is no longer considering USC.
Ever since a great performance during the spring evaluation period, Darin Johnson has been one of the top targets for Gonzaga in the 2013 class. With the Zags looking to bring in two guys that can play in the backcourt in the class, Johnson received an offer on an unofficial visit to campus.
While he may have been lurking beneath the radar heading into July, Johnson is now a national recruit after an outstanding performance with his AAU team. According to the '13 recruit, he really showed all the different aspects of his game in July.
"I think I showed I'm versatile," explained Johnson. "I showed I can play more than the 2 and that I can play any of the 1, 2 or 3. I showed the coaches my jump shot and that I can really stick it from long range. Ultimately, what really got the coaches attention was my defense and my energy on both ends of the court."
This energy was contagious with his Play Hard, Play Smart teammates, who put together an outstanding July.
"The Summer went really well," Johnson said. "We went to Philadelphia and lost in the quarterfinals of a really big tournament. Then the next week we went to Long Beach and won the whole tournament. In Las Vegas, we lost in the quarters of the Fab 48 tournament. For a team from Sacramento, we put ourselves on the map. Every guy played hard and everybody was trying to make a name for themselves."
Despite the tremendous summer he put together, Johnson isn't content with his game and is focusing to improve on a handful of areas.
"I'm still working on trying to be a floor general," the Gonzaga target said. "If I want to play combo guard at the next level, I need to work on ball-handling and some skill moves, like the step back jumper. Basically I need more skill work and I need to keep refining my jump shot."
Heading into July, Johnson held around 12 offers. By the end of the month, the number was near 20. Despite the increase in attention, Johnson is enjoying the recruiting process.
"I'm just trying to enjoy the recruiting process," revealed Johnson. "I want to make the right decision for me. I don't get overwhelmed by it. You can only choose one school. I look at every school recruiting me as a blessing."
Although he has trimmed his list to 12 schools, Johnson admits that Oregon is a favorite, while Gonzaga, Washington St. and Texas A&M are standing out.
"We scheduled the Oregon visit just so I could go up there and see what everything with the school is about," Johnson said of the Ducks. "I would say that Gonzaga, Texas A&M and WSU are standing out. They've been recruiting me since the beginning and they saw the potential for what I could become."
With his list down to 12 schools, Johnson admits that all are coming hard after him. However, there are certain schools that he is really starting to build a close relationship with.
"Schools that are really coming hard are Gonzaga, A&M, WSU and UTEP. I had a good talk with Coach Kennedy at A&M and really liked what he had to say. Coach Floyd at UTEP is another great coach and I've been talking with Coach Sendek at ASU."
The Sacramento native is also particularly close with the Gonzaga staff and Coach Few, who was present at all of his games this summer.
"My relationship with Gonzaga is outstanding," said Johnson. "They have a great staff and the coaches are as good as any college. When I took my unofficial I was amazed with the environment. They are good people and they win and that is what matters."
Since taking an involvement in the recruitment of Johnson with an offer from Brazil, Coach Few has continued to build a relationship with the 2013 recruit.
"Me and Coach Few are great. We send texts back and forth and we talk on the phone every week. He envisions me playing on the wing as a freshman and making an immediate impact. He feels like I bring the energy immediately."
With so many schools recently entering the picture, Johnson admits that a decision may not come during the early signing period.