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Boys Basketball Player Rankings: Sun Prairie's Johnson sits on top of loaded 2020 class

By Mark Miller, 05/10/17, 12:30PM CDT


Soon -- very soon -- big-name coaches will come calling.

Already, many premier college basketball programs have him on their recruiting radar. 

During April's open-evaluation period, head coaches Greg Gard of Wisconsin and Steve Wojciechowski of Marquette made it a point to check out the state's top class of 2020 prospect in updated Player Rankings released today on

Jalen Johnson of Sun Prairie turned 15 years old last winter, but the 6-foot-6 forward with a 6-foot-9 wingspan already is generating plenty of buzz in basketball recruiting circles.

Though he is very young and you never know for sure how things might turn out, some believe Johnson could very well follow in the footsteps of Kevon Looney of Milwaukee Hamilton, Diamond Stone of Dominican and Henry Ellenson of Rice Lake as recent McDonald's All-American players from Wisconsin.

Yes, he has that kind of potential.

"College coaches love Jalen's unselfishness and versatility to go along with his advanced skill set," said Ritchie Davis, executive director of the Wisconsin Playground Warriors club program, of which Johnson is a member of an absolutely loaded 15U squad. 

Davis said the Wisconsin coaching staff had one of its members at every game Johnson played during the open-evaluation period last month.

In addition to Marquette and Wisconsin, high-major schools already involved with Johnson include Auburn, California, De Paul, Iowa, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami (Fla.), Northwestern, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Purdue, Seton Hall, South Carolina, Texas Tech, Utah and Virginia.

He clearly is a very high recruiting priority for the backyard Badgers as well as many other high-major Division I programs.

But for now, Johnson is content to enjoy being a student-athlete at Sun Prairie and playing on the travel-team circuit with the Playground Warriors.

On Twitter Tuesday, Johnson put out a statement about his future that tells as much about his high character as it does about the crazy world of social media and rampant speculation. 

"To all the rumors going around ... please stop saying I'm going to college here or there ... I'm a freshman in high school and still want to enjoy my time being a kid," Johnson wrote. "At the end of the day, I just want my school paid for and enjoy my time playing the game of basketball. I want the chance for any school to recruit me because they all have the same chance."

Johnson averaged 14.9 points per game over the 14 varsity games he played for Sun Prairie coach Jeff Boos last season. The game at times appears to come easily for Johnson, the son of former Milwaukee Marshall and UW-Milwaukee standout Roderick Johnson.

He has a smooth shooting stroke, glides up and down the floor and can handle the ball and pass it like a guard. He has very good jumping ability and timing on the glass, and he figures to develop into a very good defender due to his athleticism, lateral movement and gangly frame. 

Johnson carried over his strong play for the Big Eight Conference-champion Sun Prairie Cardinals to the club circuit the past two months.

Playing alongside eight teammates who also made the top 25 in the Player Rankings for 2020, Johnson has excelled on the Under Armour Association circuit. He averaged 10.7 points and 7.5 rebounds while helping the Playground Warriors to a 3-1 record during the UAA II session April 28-30 in Fishers, Indiana.

While Johnson clearly is the best prospect in 2020, the state boasts many others who could wind up earning Division I scholarships down the road.

One -- No. 3-ranked Brandon Weston of Delafield St. John's Military Academy -- actually already owns a DI offer as the 6-foot-4 wing guard and New York city native received an offer from UMass last month.

Weston and No. 2-ranked Jamari Sibley (6-9) of Nicolet project as potential high-major college prospects. Weston is an athletic player who is advanced physically for a player of his age while Sibley has incredible length and runs the court very well.

Weston averaged 21.5 points and 8.0 rebounds as a freshman for coach Duane Mlachnik at St. John's Military and earned first-team all-league honors in the Midwest Classic Conference.

Sibley, too, had a strong freshman season, averaging 8.7 ppg for Nicolet in the ultra-tough North Shore Conference.

Two sets of twins also have caught the attention of college recruiters.

Gabe (6-4) and Mason (6-3) Madsen of Bloomer form a dynamic backcourt for their father and coach, Luke Madsen. They can both shoot, possess excellent size, and have a very good feel for the game. 

Johnny (6-2) and Jordan (6-2) Davis of La Crosse Central each saw considerable playing time for coach Todd Fergot and the WIAA Division 2 state-champion Red Raiders as freshmen.

The sons of former Old Dominion and Milwaukee Bucks wing player Mark Davis, Johnny averaged 8.5 ppg as a ninth grader while Jordan contributed 7.7 ppg.

The Madsen and Davis twins along with Sibley are teammates of Johnson's on the Playground Warriors squad while Weston competes with the PSA Cardinals. 

No. 4-ranked Kaleim Taylor (6-1) of Milwaukee Academy of Science has created quite the stir on the club circuit this spring while playing for the Milwaukee Spartans/Rebels Elite program.

A point guard who averaged 16.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists as a freshman for coach Agape Keys at MAS, Taylor might be the top point-guard prospect in the 2020 class. He has very good size and is a solid passer to go along with his ability to score and rebound.

Forwards Terrance Thompson (6-7) of La Crosse Logan and Dai'Vontrelle Strong (6-6) of Beloit Turner have also performed well this spring.

Thompson competes with the Playground Warriors and averaged 10.3 points and 5.0 rebounds in four UAA II contests. During the high-school season, he contributed 9.7 ppg for a La Crosse Logan program that competes win the very competitive Mississippi Valley Conference.

Described as a "man-child" by many who have watched him play this spring, Thompson looks like anything but a ninth-grade student as his physical maturity is more advanced than most of the opponents he encounters.

Strong is a very versatile player who missed a good chunk of the high school season with an injury. He handles the ball well, can attack the hoop off the bounce and can also score in the post.

Strong and No. 17-ranked James Flippin (6-8) of Milwaukee Carmen Northwest form an imposing frontline for the Playground Elite -- EYBL program that also includes sharpshooting wing guard Aidan Clarey (6-1), the No. 15-ranked player who averaged 20.2 ppg as a freshman and earned first-team all-Midwest Classic honors alongside Weston.

The Wisconsin Swing 15U squad coached by Justin Litscher also boasts several potential scholarship players, including wing-guard Isaac Lindsey, a 6-foot-2 shooter with extremely deep range. 

Ranked No. 10 in the 2020 class by WisSports, Lindsey made 72 of 165 attempts (44 percent) from three-point range during the season for Mineral Point and coach Dan Burreson.

No. 16-ranked Delaware Hale (6-5) and fast-rising forward Yacouba Traore (6-6) play on the frontline for the Swing and both currently attend Sun Prairie along with Johnson and promising point guard Colin Schaefer. 

The D1 Minnesota program out of the Twin Cities boasts two stellar prospects on its talented 15U squad in No. 12-ranked Caden Boser (6-7) of Eau Claire Memorial and No. 18-ranked Dalton Banks (6-0) of Eau Claire North.

The Wisconsin Shooters 15U squad is also very talented and features two Top 25 performers in 2020 in wing guard and No. 13-ranked Abe Scruggs IV (6-2) of Dominican and No. 22-ranked Lucas Finnessy, a versatile 6-foot-4 guard/forward from Sussex Hamilton.

Newcomers to the updated Top 25 for 2020 include Hale, Flippin, Finnessy, No. 20 Keaton Ferris of Kaukauna and No. 23 Desmond Polk of New Berlin West.

For a complete list of the updated Top 25, please click here.

For a list of Others to Watch in 2020, please click here.