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July 24, 2010LAS VEGAS - Nick Johnson gave him a wink, a subtle nod. Jabari Brown saw it. So when Brown threw an alley-oop to Johnson on an out-of-bounds play and Johnson made it a highlight-reel dunk, the Bishop Gorman gym went crazy - for minutes.
Johnson and Brown are on the Drew Gooden Soldiers and they're destroying the competition here at the Las Vegas Fab 48 heading into Sunday's final round, comfortable victories each time they take the floor.
With Kyle Wiltjer, Josiah Turner, Kiwi Gardner, Brandon Ashley and others also making contributions the Soldiers will be a tough out.
"This is the best tournament we've played," Johnson said. "We've been playing together. We haven't had one practice this summer but I think we're doing pretty good to mold together and we really grasp what each other can do."
Johnson, from Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep, has been outstanding in this tournament not only as an athlete but he takes the ball to the basket, hits three-pointers, defends well, is competitive and plays with a nice feel to the game. In the second half, Johnson finished a lob pass from Turner with a reverse dunk.
It wasn't as spectacular as the in-bounds play but showed off Johnson's athleticism in front of numerous high-profile coaches including Kentucky's John Calipari, Arizona's Sean Miller, Cal's Mike Montgomery, St. John's Steve Lavin, Gonzaga's Mark Few, Oregon's Dana Altman, Stanford's Johnny Dawkins, UCLA's Ben Howland, USC's Kevin O'Neill and many others watching.
"Every out of bounds play I look at Jabari and if the middle is open I give him a little wink and tell him to throw it up," Johnson said.
"That one wasn't that great because it rattled around a little bit, it didn't go straight through. The second one wasn't a set play or anything. (Turner) just saw me and through it up.
"I've played up pretty much my whole life. I've played in front of (those coaches) many times and being at Findlay Prep they've come to our gym and I've been able to talk to them. It's really not that exciting now, it's just another game but the first time it was definitely exciting."
Like many top prospects who are waiting until the end of July to gauge where their recruitment stands, Johnson remains wide open and said he doesn't have any leaders at this point.
Arizona, Arizona State, Louisville, St. John's, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and others have remained steadfast in Johnson's recruitment. He said North Carolina has started to express interest and that he's hearing a little bit from USC, UCLA, Memphis and Kentucky.
A four-star prospect rated No. 13 at shooting guard and No. 45 overall by Rivals.com, Johnson said he'll take the first few weeks in August to narrow down his list to a more manageable level and then the 6-foot-2 recruit wants to take some official visits.
Since he's been busy all spring and summer on the road, Johnson hasn't had much time to evaluate his favorites so some down time next month will give him that opportunity. Then he'll have a better idea of which programs stand out and which ones won't make the cut.
"With Findlay starting officially in September I have a little more time to think about things," Johnson said. "I want to take some official visits. I don't have any scheduled. I'm in the process right now of narrowing down my list to eight, five, three, something like that."