NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. – Turns out, UA target Puff Johnson might still reclassify to 2019 after all.
Johnson’s father, Gilbert, told the Star on Thursday that Johnson is still waiting to find out if a move up is possible, despite reports that he is definitely staying in 2020.
Gilbert Johnson said he is trying to find out from Moon Area High School if his son will be allowed to graduate this summer if he takes the coursework he has lined up. He said Puff has already met NCAA requirements to be eligible should he choose to play in 2019-20.
“They (Moon Area) require a couple of things that will be tough to do in the summer,” Gilbert Johnson said. “Right now they’re talking to the superintendent to see if we can accomplish it. We’ll know something (soon).”
Johnson started looking into reclassification after he was denied the chance to play for Moon Area next season. If he doesn’t reclassify – a decision Puff spoke about as a likely possibility – he would enroll in a prep school to play next season.
Puff Johnson said he is considering Phoenix Hillcrest, Brewster Academy, Spire, and the First Love Christian Academy in Pennsylvania.
Puff Johnson said UA is interested in bringing him on either in 2019 or 2020 while some schools were offering him for 2019 or 2020, depending on their situation. UA has no scholarships currently for 2019 but that could change, and Johnson has been offered one for either year if he committed.
Puff Johnson said Arizona has a “lot of positives,” with his father having played with Sean Miller at Pitt and his older brother, Cameron, having visited the Wildcats as a grad transfer in 2017 before going to North Carolina and now the Suns.
Puff said Cameron might have even committed to UA if Rawle Alkins had not returned for his sophomore season in 2017-18.
“I wouldn’t have been too surprised,” he said.
California-based Team Why Not gave up an early lead and lost 72-71 to Nightrydas Elite in a 9 a.m. game on Thursday, but UA target Nimari Burnett said he wouldn’t blame it on the early start. Even though it was at 6 a.m. Pacific time, he said the team arrived Tuesday morning via a red eye flight and has been adjusting.
“No excuses,” Burnett said.
But that didn’t mean he wasn’t tired. Team Why Not had until 9 p.m. for its second game Thursday, which meant plenty of time to retreat to the hotel.
“We definitely can get some good naps today,” Burnett said.
Hal Pastner, the ever-energized father of former UA assistant and Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner, was on hand Thursday to offer support for the Houston Hoops club he founded.
However, he no longer is organizing events, having sold his Bigfoot Hoops company. Pastner had 1,229 teams in his Las Vegas Classic last year.
“That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Pastner said.
UA superfan and prominent Tucson businessman George Kalil has died. We’ll have more about him later Thursday.