Now that Wesley Johnson of Iowa State has made his intentions known to the coaching staff, let's just have a look at the story behind this story.
First of all, about the person who alerted us to this potential story. CrossCyed is the proprietor of the SB Nation Iowa State blog Clone Chronicles. He emailed me about this back on May 6th, so in my opinion, he knows what he is talking about. As most of you know, I am not a recruiting guru, don't claim to be one and really don't have the time to work those angles. Marc Maggard, Matt Jones, Jeff Drummond and others all spend considerable time and effort working that part of the University of Kentucky beat, and they all do a fantastic job. So I tend to be a little cautious about recruiting or transfer info.
Now, to our subject. Wesley Johnson is a rarity in college basketball, a true under-the-radar guy who the recruiting gurus somehow missed. Rivals had Johnson ranked as only a 2-star coming out of high school, but Johnson decided to prep a year and wound up at the Patterson School in North Carolina, the school of former UK fan infatuation Marshall Mosess. From there, he finished out the 2006 season at Eldon Academy and ultimately wound up at ISU.
According to this story from the Des Moines Register, Johnson essentially just packed up his stuff and left the Iowa State campus. Apparently, the coaching staff had no idea he was considering transfer, which makes me seriously wonder if McDermott and company really have any idea what is happening with their program. If you think UK has had some tough times lately, all I can tell you is that ISU has suffered tribulations that would make Job sell his soul to Satan. They have had something like 13 transfers in the last few seasons and a player declared ineligible for a year by the NCAA because some of his teammates (not him) received a stipend from a European team he was playing on. This diary over at Clone Chronicles aught to give you some idea of the depredations the Cyclones are facing at the hands of fate right now.
Johnson is truly an amazing player who does all the things basketball players are supposed to do -- score, rebound, pass run, jump and shoot -- and does them all at a very high level. Last year at ISU (2007-08) Johnson averaged 12 points and 4 rebounds against Big 12 competition, and played the entire campaign with a stress fracture in his ankle. Johnson went for 20+ points seven times last year -- twice against Kansas, at Kansas State, and against Oklahoma State among others -- and had one double-double. On a broken ankle. So believe me when I say that Johnson has all the talent and ability he needs to excel at Kentucky. Why do I say this? Read this review of his game from NBA Draft Express.
So what's the negative? Well, there is always a negative. Johnson has not always been the best student, as his prep-school career will attest. He has also had gypsy tendencies, as he moved between several high schools late in his career. The latter will be mitigated by the fact that this transfer is essentially the last one possible for a college player, so he'll likely finish his college career wherever he lands.
As a player, Johnson apparently has a tendency to shoot too many threes, despite off-the-charts athletic and slashing ability. That's the biggest knock against his game I can find on a quick search. He also did not show a lot of maturity by just leaving Iowa State and having a family member contact the coaching staff -- that is just not a very grown-up thing to do, and does not speak very highly of his character. Remember Randolph Morris's abortive NBA shot and how that went down?
For those of you wondering about whether he might be fighting Matthew Pilgrim for the last available scholarship, Marc Maggard is saying that Gillispie would likely take them both, and find a way to work out the scholarship situation.