In a bit of a surprise, 2014 small forward Stanley Johnson from Santa Ana (CA) Mater Dei will announce his college decision this Friday. He will take part in ESPNU's Signing Day Special, with his announcement broadcast live around 4:00 p.m. eastern time. The Herald-Leader's Ben Roberts was the first to break the news.
The announcement came across ESPN's bottom-line ticker during last night's Champions Classic. It had been assumed that Johnson would wait until January to commit, signing during the Regular Signing Period in April. Instead, Roberts confirmed with Johnson's high school coach this morning that Johnson will indeed commit live on ESPNU. With Friday's announcement forthcoming, Johnson presumably will sign in the fall.
Two other highly regarded prospects, Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones, also will announce on the special. Both players had Kentucky on their finalists lists, but will pick either Duke or Kansas.
Johnson's finalists include the Kentucky Wildcats, Arizona Wildcats, USC Trojans, Oregon Ducks, and Florida Gators. Johnson took an official visit to Kentucky for Big Blue Madness. He has also officially visited Arizona and USC. Arizona is considered the favorite going into Friday's announcement. Johnson's 247 Crystal Ball currently shows 66% of recruitniks picking Arizona, with the latest four picks going to the "other" Wildcats.
Given the timing of Johnson's announcement, Kentucky is more likely than not to miss on landing a commitment from Johnson. Arizona has most of the momentum in Johnson's recruitment. However, an early decision from Johnson gives John Calipari and the Kentucky coaching staff plenty of time to search for alternatives. If Johnson doesn't choose Kentucky, a couple names to keep an eye on are Jonah Bolden and Montaque Gill-Caesar.
Bolden recently rose to Top 50 status in the 2014 class. The Australian native is playing his senior year at Henderson (NV) Findlay Prep and would be open to communication from the Wildcats. Also, Kentucky recently hosted 2015 small forward Montaque Gill-Caesar, another Canadian in the Huntington (WV) Prep pipeline (see: Andrew Wiggins). Gill-Caesar reportedly could reclassify to the 2014 class.
Of course, Johnson could end up pleasantly surprising by picking Kentucky. Stay tuned.