Milton (Alpharetta, Ga.) basketball coach David Boyd has seen and coached many star players. Boyd's last two Milton teams won the 2010 AAAAA state title, and were the AAAAA state runner-up in 2011. But he hasn't seen or coached a player with the talent, although sometimes raw, of his rising senior forward Shaquille Johnson.
The 6-foot-5, 195-pound Johnson committed to Auburn in February shortly after receiving an offer from the Tigers.
In this Q&A, Boyd talks about Johnson and what kind of player/potential Auburn is getting.
Q How would you describe Johnson as a player?
A He's a really big competitor. He's as quick as lightening. He's an outstanding defender and he's the best leaper I have seen.
Q What are some of the things that he is working on?
A He still has a long way to go, but he is really improving his ball handling, passing and shooting. He keeps getting better. Shaquille is smart enough to know that he has to continue getting better with the ball handling, passing and shooting, but he has improved all of them tremendously.
Q Johnson is nationally known for his jumping/dunking ability having won competitions all across the country…
A I don't know anyone that can get up the way he can. When you watch him go up and block a shot, it almost looks like he's blocking it with his armpit. He gets up so high. It's really freakish at times.
Q Milton returned to the state title game in 2011 only to come up short to Norcross. What role did Johnson play on that team?
A He was in a tough situation last year because we had so many guys returning from a state championship team. He was our sixth man and that was a tough role for him because he is a competitor. But he played it great. He played probably 10-12 minutes a game and still averaged nine points and seven rebounds. He had a 28-point game, a 21-point game. He scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the semifinals of the state tournament.
Q What has his recruitment been like since he committed to Auburn in February?
A First of all, he can be a dominant player on the court, but didn't get a lot of opportunities last year to show it. But Auburn took a chance on him when nobody else would. Auburn saw it. (Milt) Wagner saw it. (Tony) Barbee saw it. I saw it. But nobody else saw it. Nobody else was willing to put it out there before Auburn. Now, everybody and their grandmother would like to have him. I mean everybody. He can go anywhere. But he didn't sit around and wait for others to come around. He went with the school that believed in him. He went with Auburn, and now Auburn has got a stud on their hands.
Q Coaching in Georgia, have you had the chance of watching another Auburn commitment, Jordan Price, from Southwest Dekalb?
A Oh yeah. I've seen Jordan plenty of times. He is really, really good. Auburn has two studs coming in this class. Both are underrated, but are going to be outstanding college players. Auburn fans should be very excited about these two.