Robert Johnson Sr. talks recruiting, upcoming IU visit

  • 08/20/2013 11:54 am in


After a summer that saw his stock rise significantly after performances at the Peach Jam and the AAU Super Showcase, class of 2014 Benedictine (Va.) guard Robert Johnson is ready to begin visiting schools.

The 6-foot-3, 190 pound guard is working from a list of seven schools — Florida State, Georgetown, Indiana, Miami (FL), North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Virginia — and will make his first scheduled official visit this weekend to Bloomington. Louisville has also expressed interest in the combo guard.

Johnson received his first scholarship offer from UNC-Greensboro last year, but has steadily raised his stock over the past year.

The notoriety hasn’t changed Johnson, according to his father, Robert Sr.

“Talking to Robert, I think he’s handling the process really well,” Robert Johnson Sr. told Inside the Hall on Sunday. “He’s not a kid that shows a lot of emotion. He’s definitely blessed by the attention that he has received because he feel like he’s put in the work.”

While Indiana didn’t officially offer Johnson until late July, assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Kenny Johnson has been familiar with the Virginia guard and his family for quite some time.

“Coach Johnson was actually recruiting him when he was at Towson,” Johnson Sr. explained. “Then when he made the transition over to Indiana, Robert was actually playing for the D.C. Assault at the time and he watched him then. He’s been kind of tracking him.”

The Hoosiers put on the full court press beginning in July, when Tom Crean was able to see Johnson average 20.2 points and shoot 46.2 percent on 3-pointers at the Nike Peach Jam.

“(This year) he played with Boo Williams in the live periods at the EYBL sessions at the Peach Jam and he (Johnson) wanted Coach Crean to see for himself the type of player that Robert was,” Johnson Sr. said. “Coach Crean was able to see him at Peach Jam and pretty much put his stamp of approval on everything as far as what Coach Johnson was telling him.”

In a story with late last week, the younger Johnson said that he could commit on a visit if “I find something I really like, I won’t wait. I could commit on a visit.”

Johnson Sr. told Inside the Hall that he’s made it clear to his son that he’ll support him in anything that he does, but was also wants to make sure that any commitment he gives will be final.

“Once you commit to something, there’s no de-committing,” Johnson Sr. said. “And I think that’s why he’s being real specific and strategic about it because once he commits, that’s it. He’s going to stick to that commitment.”

As a parent, Johnson Sr. has a specific list of criteria that he’ll be looking for as he accompanies his son on visits.

“Some of the main things I know I’ll look at it is first, as a parent, the things we’ve instilled in Robert, the foundation that we’ve laid, I want somebody to carry on what we started and assist him in becoming a well grounded young man,” he said. “Education wise, I want to see the graduation rate, how many guys graduate on the basketball team. What are they doing after basketball? Those are some of the things I want to see. The culture, the environment and will he fit in the environment?”

From a basketball perspective, Johnson Sr. believes the younger Johnson will be able to fit in with just about any system.

“He adapts to any system really. I think you would not see his best if you see him in a system where they’re making multiple passes and he’s not creating shots for someone, not creating shots for him,” Johnson Sr. said. “Transition, he likes to get out in the open court and also as a trailer, hitting jumpers in transition.

“I’ve watched Indiana play and they pretty much let their guards loose. And he’s the type of player that was always a shooter, but now he’s been working on that high screen and roll, which a lot of colleges are running.”

When Indiana offered Johnson a scholarship in mid-July, he told Inside the Hall that the program’s recent success in getting players to the NBA was “definitely appealing.”

The Hoosiers had two of the top four picks in June’s NBA Draft with Victor Oladipo going No. 2 overall to Orlando and Cody Zeller going No. 4 to Charlotte. The IU presence at the top of the lottery wasn’t lost on Johnson Sr., either.

“That’s big, that’s big. The player development is huge. I watch Indiana and (Victor) Oladipo, his freshman year, was really under the radar,” he said. “He wasn’t a great shooter and he’s pretty much always had a good motor, but I think Tom Crean and the coaching staff did a great job with allowing him to keep the motor but they worked on the other facets of his game. I watched how they developed him and it’s great.”

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  • Rie

    Every quote from the Johsnson family seems to fully encompass what IU is about. From the graduation rate of the players, to the individual player development, I don’t know how we couldn’t be the frontrunner.

    I also love the little jab, whether intentional or not, on Blackmon Jr.; “Once you commit to something, there’s no de-committing”. Glad to see a father is instilling good morals into his son, unlike other ones we have seen pass through the 2014 class (Lyles and Blackmon).

    It really sounds like the mutual interest is too great to pass up for both Robert Johnson and IU. I almost to expect him to commit this weekend, but will temper my expectations and hope for the best. This would be a great start to rebuilding the foundation for a strong 2014 recruiting class.

  • mikeguy

    Ugh Oh… “doesn’t show a lot of emotion” another Hollowell with his facial expressions? A Watford? haha in all seriousness I would really like this kid. His athleticism might be a little below average from what I’ve seen, but not all kids that can shoot like him can ALSO explode off the floor like JBJr. Dad seems very grounded and wants the best for his son, but to be sure about his decision. I like valuing your commitment (obviously with more recent events).

  • WisconHoosier

    When it’s all done, I think we’re going to be very happy with our 2014 class. I hope Robert Johnson commits on his visit.

  • notfargj

    this is completely out of the blue and shamelessly dressed with wishful thinking. yet, in justin’s august 13th article about robert, his dad made a comment i found interesting.

    “off course he hopes james ends up back there at Indiana because he feels james is a great player and they complement each other well.”

    for whatever reason, i couldn’t help to think that – in his mind – he already had his son headed to IU. as if to say, robert is going to be a hoosier and hopefully james will join him. while i don’t believe james is returning, i think johnson has the potential to not only fill but exceed blackmon’s role. we all know what assuming can make us and so i’ll do my best not to put the chariot before the horse but i believe he’ll be a hoosier. as someone already mentioned, this article is filled with remarks that fall perfectly inline with program values.

  • N71

    Does he have an offer from UNC? Some sites say yes, others say no.

  • WhatsUpKnight

    i’ve said all along, we’re gonna get ours. sure the decommits bothered me, but mainly due to the lack of honesty and integrity with which they were handled. it reflects poorly on iu and puts CTC in a position where he’s got to play catch-up with all the other recruits.

    being said, i’m really liking this kid. maybe not the flash of a jbjr, but a solid talent who would fit in nicely at iu.

  • colinbb10

    I really really hope they back off him. RoJo is my favorite prospect we’re still involved with

  • So, mikey.. I’m not sure I understand what you’ve just said. You think his athleticism is a little below average…yet you say not many can explode off the floor like he can.. So which is it? That would be athleticism.. wouldn’t it?

  • Rie

    He said “explode off the floor like JBJr (aka James Blackmon)”.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Nope…he said, “not all kids that can shoot like him can ALSO explode off the floor like JBJr.”. He’s implying that James Blackmon Jr. is a rare combination of elite shooting and elite athleticism. He was pretty clear about what he thinks of Johnson’s athleticism (below average) and I don’t particularly agree with him.

  • Yes he does.

  • I think this guy can be just as flashy as JBJ. He can be a lights out shooter, and seems just about as quick… I think he could make us all forget about JBJ. Don’t get me wrong, I still like JBJ a lot, but he’s gone for sure. My take is, for what it’s worth and that’s not a whole lot, he’ll fit in better to the IU culture than JBJ would have.

  • WhatsUpKnight

    time will tell if he’ll be as capable a scorer as what jbj at least appears to be, but couldn’t agree more on RJ fitting in better.

  • HoosierTrav

    I hope we can land the kid bc he can flat out score. Most sites have him as a UNC lean but so was Troy Williams. I wonder why we aren’t able to get kids in for Hoosier Hysteria this year…Maybe schedules aren’t lining up. I’d like to get Johnson and Okonoboh in for a premier B1G game, so they can witness, first hand, the amazing atmosphere.

  • Southport65

    I don’t understand Blackmon and his father talking IU up for 3 years and then withdrawing can be a bad reflection on our coach. He did everything he could and Blackmon hosed us by waiting until this late to withdraw. He caused IU big trouble because other highly ranked SG passed us up because they and everyone else thought Blackmon was IU’s. How can a father who is a coach who played for KY let this happen? As a good Coach and father how could he let his son take such an early offer? I think it was done so that they did not have to hassle with recruitment. Did he and his son not talk about this? He has 2 other son’s that could be as good if not better than James Jr. but Coach Crean has to be thinking why offer if Dad’s going to direct them to KY anyway. Something fishy went on and in IMHO the KY coach and old Dad had something to do with it. I hope I am wrong and it was just a young man looking for an easier and quicker way to get to the NBA. Anyway that boat has sailed and this Young man sure looks like a good fit for IU. I am sure Coach will end up with a good class for 2014 and he really only needs 2 players to fill his roster at this point but I would not be surprised if he did not get a 2014 class of 4.

  • WhatsUpKnight

    very good points, and i agree 100% with what you’re saying. you and i know the truth, Hoosier Nation knows the truth, but what about the rest of the country? in particular, how is this perceived by other potential recruits? that’s my concern, maybe it’s not a big deal.

    regarding the early commit, you gotta wonder if it was done in an effort to boost his national visibility. boost his stock, so to speak. honestly, i’m kinda over it now anyway.

  • CP

    Also wasn’t there a comment in there from Boo Williams as well saying that Crean would want him to commit in the fall, and not wait till the spring? I think he commits this weekend.

  • james

    Definitely, one of our biggest draws to recruits would be witnessing what it’s like during a big time game/event at Assembly Hall. I would have to think a visit during the offseason has way less impact, but maybe scrimmages and Cook Hall make up for it.

  • HoosierTrav

    I agree. Everything was said to make you think IU is the place to be other than coming right out and saying this is where he is coming to school.

  • Sarasota Hoosier

    It is a shame about Blackman, and I agree that he is likely gone. Question, as an upcoming senior, why wouldn’t any 4* or 5* recruit not want to take their 5 official visits? You can tour the country, be wined and dined, treated like royalty, and then make your decision. If you are truly one of the elite players, then why not take full advantage of all 5 official visits? Schools will make sure there is a scholarship available for you.

  • Oldguyy

    So Oladipo will be in Bloomington this weekend when Johnson visits. That can’t hurt!

  • HoosierTrav

    The best way to handle this, so that recruits dont see us in a negative light, is to rebound on the fly and land a stellar class shortly after his decommit. We all know whichever one of these SG’s commit to IU is going to develop better at IU than they would at UK. James Blackmon is good but he’s not 1 and done good. At UK, the next years crop comes in and surpasses you on the depth chart. New year with new promises to new players. I agree! I’m totally over the Blackmon thing. Robert Johnson is completely capable of coming in and giving us what JB gave us.

    Another thing worth mentioning is that we are REALLY sleeping on Stan Robinson. He’s our 2 guard and he’s in the gym every day. He has size and can handle the ball. Cook Hall will mend the jumpshot woes (which arent even close to as bad as frosh Oladipo Jumper). Who’s to say Stan Robinson wouldn’t start over JBjr. Forget the kid. On to the ones who care about something bigger than themselves. Thats all i keep hearing. “I’m doing whats best for ME!” Thats great! But there is a such way to do this without being deceitful and putting the ones who are your biggest fans in a bad situation. Robert Johnsons dad gets it! Bravo sir!

  • HoosierTrav

    I would take all of the visits to schools i was genuinely interested in. I wouldnt lead a coach to believe he had a shot when he didn’t. If thats 5 school or 2….? Thats what i would do and advise my kid to do.

  • Rie

    I actually think he goes to MSU and takes over once Garry Harris goes to the NBA, at least over going to UK.

    No idea what is going to happen though, but UK just doesn’t seem like the right fit for him.

  • PV Mike

    I was just about to post the same thing. I hope CTC let’s Victor have some private time with Robert and family.

  • a train

    i like this kid alot we need shooters n he fits the bill…id luv him whitehead or snider n goodluck…go iu


    Having that IU offer that early had nothing but upside to it and no downside to it IMHO, especially if the commit was made with the idea, ” we can always change our mind later if we want “, which, now, is how I’m feeling like it was. One never knows when they will suffer a really bad injury and not ever recover from it to the point of having the ceiling that they were perceived to have before the injury. Can’t help but kinda feel like we were the back up plan for the Blackmons until they seen how the recovery would go cause they knew Crean would be a man of his word and still give the scholly to Jr.

    Gotta stop, cause I’m also sure that I’ve already said all of this before, but damn it it still feels kinda good airin’ it out too.


    but was also wants to make sure that any commitment he gives will be final.

    “Once you commit to something, there’s no de-committing,” Johnson Sr. said. “And I think that’s why he’s being real specific and strategic about it because once he commits, that’s it. He’s going to stick to that commitment.”

    Boy there are some words that have to be music to just about every IU bball fans’ ears.

  • Jennifer G

    Who can line up some pretty co-eds chanting “We want Robert?” when he gets there? lol
    (Um, his mom might not appreciate that as much as he would! LOL)

  • SCHoosier

    Goodluck feels that way..hence the Vegas strip on his final list:)

  • Jennifer G

    So glad you mentioned Stan. Troy gets a lot of attention (as does Noah) because he’s such a fun, outgoing personality. I think people are forgetting about Stan (and Devin and Collin)
    I think you are right- Stan is going to impress us!

  • Ole Man

    How many others want this kid as much as I do?

  • Ole Man

    I think they’ll both be committed long before we hit the B1G schedule; unfortunately.

  • Ole Man

    Interesting thought. I didn’t know MSU and he had that much mutual interest.
    If we land one early commitment, I see him coming back to IU. Don’t know why exactly; just a hunch.

  • james

    I’m pretty sure this weekend, his only scheduled visit.

  • Ole Man

    Duh! I need to learn more reading comprehension! Thanks!

  • james

    Haha that will happen! And I want him as much as you do, we need more shooters in my opinion.

  • notfargj

    i agree. given what we’re hearing from those close to him, it’d be a surprise if he didn’t.

  • marcusgresham

    I’d narrow my list of five down to Hawaii, Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Florida Atlantic, and IU, take my official visits in that order, and commit to IU on my way out the door.

  • semohoosier

    I know it’s not a popular opinion here but i agree with your hunch. And if what Blackmon is saying is his reason is for real then i believe we have just as good a chance as anyone and i would welcome him back. If it was all for attention then i would rather he move on.

  • Jerry Smith

    Crean will find a way to blow this, just like Lyles and Blackmon.

  • Ole Man

    Totally agree on needing more shooters.
    And depending on how our “big men” pan out this year, we may need some major inside help.
    We seem to have tons of excellent wing type players.

  • Jerry Smith

    We don’t need this kid. We need to go back after Lyles and Blackmon. What does that say about our program when homegrown talent doesn’t even want to go to IU?

  • IUfaninKY

    Jerry- what is gone is gone. let it go. Crean is moving on as he should be. It will be a big surprise if Lyles and Blackmon don’t end up together at KY according to KY Alums

  • Ole Man

    I honestly don’t think the coaching staff has given up on Blackmon.
    And unlike some posters, I’m not down on the kid for what he did. We’re not the first program this has happened to.

  • Jerry Smith

    Not sure why everyone is giving Crean a free pass. We got progressively worse last year with better talent than most teams. He needs to go.

  • Sean G

    Crean left a decent program in Marquette to come to IU when it was NOTHING to help restore it and after just five years, he has brought the program to the most success it has seen in over a decade.

    Who would you hire? If you fire Crean what decent coach in their right mind would even take the job?

    Last year’s team had flaws that became evident as the season wore on and opponents began exploiting those flaws. Coaches can’t make shots for the players – our backcourt scored 0 against Syracuse – how is that all Crean’s fault?

  • Ole Man

    It wasn’t all Crean’s fault. But, as opponents learn your weaknesses and exploit them, a coach should be adjusting.
    CTC, both to his credit and his faults, seems to be “stubborn” about making changes.
    That’s evidenced in his game planning and his in-game coaching.

  • Jerry Smith

    We had two top 5 players in the NBA Draft. What will happen when teams expose our flaws next year and the year after that and year after that? Does Crean eventually make an adjustment at some point? Or does he keep going after guys that will ridge the bench for 4 years but be loved because they’re from Indiana? Fire CTC

  • IU76’s

    Let’s not be so hard on Blackmon and Lyles. They committed when they were, what, 14 years old. And this is one of the biggest decision these young men will make in their lives. I’d rather see the engagement is off than a divorce after 1 year.