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UConn men get commitment from 6-11 Samson Johnson of New Jersey

Samson Johnson is a 6-foot-11 stretch four who can fill it up from long range, put the ball on the floor, rebound and block shots.

Johnson, who committed to UConn on Monday morning, is also one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet, according to the men who have coached him.

"He's a tremendous young man, a model citizen," said Chris Chavannes, head coach at the Patrick School in Hillside, N.J. "I would say sometimes that's a little bit of a weakness as a player, because sometimes he's just too nice on the court. But he's a phenomenal person. It just doesn't get any better than him, as a person."

Jay David, Johnson's coach with the NY Jayhawks AAU team, agreed.

"As a person, he's amazing," David said. "I've been around a lot of kids, and there are very few kids of his talent level that are as humble as he is. I'm very, very proud of him. His work ethic is tireless, he's a sponge of a young man, he picks up everything real quickly. I'm super-excited for him, and I think there's a world of potential there for him."

Said Johnson: "If you want to play at the highest level, you've got to be a great person, on and off the court. I try to be like that, all the time."

Johnson is rated as the No. 86 overall prospect in the nation in the Class of 2021, according to 247Sports' rankings. He is the third 2021, four-star recruit to commit to the Huskies in the past few weeks, joining point gaurd Rahsool Diggins and shooting guard Jordan Hawkins. UConn's scholarship alottment for the 2021-22 season is now filled, though the Huskies could have other openings if any players elect to go pro.

"It feels great. I've been waiting a long time for this. It feels good," Johnson told Hearst Connecticut Media. "I think it's a good fit for me: the position I play, the coaching staff, how they approached me."

Johnson said the staff recruited him as a four (power forward), but he can play the five (center), as well.

"I'm gonna bring some shot-blocking, I can run up and down (the floor), I can shoot the ball — 3's, 2's," Johnson said, adding that his biggest areas of improvement are his handle and his strength.

Johnson entered last season at the Patrick School a bit off the radar, with high-level recruits including Jonathan Kuminga (who recently turned pro), Adama Sanogo (who committed to UConn in May), Noah Farrakhan and others garnering most of the attention. But when some of those players weren't eligible for the first half of the season, Johnson "emerged out of nowhere," per Chavannes.

"We didn't expect what we got out of him," the coach noted. "He was a game-changer late in the game, with huge blocks, huge putbacks, knocking down jump shots or finishing in transition. There were a number of big games last year where he absolutely stepped up and either clinched, solidified or brought us back to lead us to victory."

"I had to step up," Johnson said. "Even though I was playing with great players, I had to do my thing."

"It got to the point," Chavannes added, "where he became the focal point of most teams to keep him at bay, keep him off the boards, stop him in transition."

Assuming Sanogo sticks around for his sophomore season, he and Johnson will be teammates once again in Storrs.

Cincinnati and St. John's were the two other leading programs that were in on Johnson, whose recruitment to UConn was spearheaded by Kimani Young.

Chavannes noted that Johnson was a "silent killer" who, at one point, was shooting well over 60 percent from the floor. He can shoot the 3, Chavannes said, and has improved with the ball where he can beat opponents off the dribble to the right or left and hit the pull-up jumper.

He has also gained about 10 pounds of muscle mass through workouts over the past several months. Getting stronger will continue to be one area where Johnson must improve, according to the coach.

"That's one things that's unique about him, his window is improvement is amazing," Chavannes said. "He's got a large window. He just gets better and better every time he steps on the court."


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