Robert Johnson: Indiana is the “best fit for me”

  • 09/20/2013 5:45 pm in


A bit before 3:30 p.m. on Friday afternoon, Robert Johnson made the call from his school’s parking lot.

The class of 2014 Benedictine (Va.) School guard was on the phone trying to get in touch with Indiana coach Tom Crean to give his commitment to the Hoosiers. He didn’t answer, but Johnson was ready.

He walked into his school’s library and sat at a table draped in a green cloth, making his college choice public by choosing the Hoosiers over North Carolina, Virginia and Florida State.

“I want to thank all the schools that recruited me and offered me a scholarship,” Johnson said, reaching for a crimson hat below the table. “In the fall of 2014, I’m gonna be attending…” He then put on the IU basketball cap, making his commitment public.

“I just tried to talk to coach Crean but he was doing what he does best —  he was in the gym working on his players —  so I wasn’t able to get in contact with him,” Johnson added. “I’ll probably give him a call him right after this.”

By choosing Indiana, Johnson became the lone member of the Hoosiers’ 2014 class. He’s ranked as the No. 79 prospect and No. 23 shooting guard according to the 247 Composite. And he brings three immediate benefits to Bloomington, his AAU coach Boo Williams said.

“It’s a huge pickup because he solves three problems,” Williams said. “One, he can play point guard; two, he can play shooting guard; and three, he’s a shooter.

“They’re getting a hell of a player. He’s a great kid.”

In the days leading up to Johnson’s commitment, the speculation around his recruitment was that the Richmond native would choose either Virginia or North Carolina. But Johnson said he knew “all week” he would pick IU. Why?

“I think they’ve been recruiting me the hardest, and the main thing (Crean) always talked about is he made me a priority from day one,” Johnson said. “For having a chance to play at the next level, he talked a lot about how he would do that by the developmental aspect.

“At the end of the day, I think I made the decision based on what I thought would be the best fit for me.”

Johnson said that though Indiana did not make any promises on playing time, he knows he will have the opportunity to play either point guard or shooting guard in Bloomington. But that was not the only part of his decision.

His former AAU teammate, Troy Williams, is a freshman at Indiana this year and helped recruit Johnson to Bloomington. The lure of Indiana basketball history also played a factor, he said.

“It was a big part; they have a history of producing players,” Johnson said. “They’re trying to get back to where they were in the past, so I’m glad I can be a part of that.”

“Robert is a family person and we’re a close family. And the main thing is, Robert has to attend a school – we don’t. We always want to be supportive of him,” Johnson’s father, Robert Sr., added. “And I do think all the schools that recruited him, they were the best schools you can ask for. So if our son made a decision, we’re going to do everything to support him 100 percent. We’re going to do everything we can to be there for him.”

As for Johnson’s next step?

“I’m gonna try to go out and recruit some other players to come on board with me,” he said.

Is there anyone in particular he has in mind? Maybe his close friend and 247 Composite four-star forward Devin Robinson, who is visiting Indiana on Oct. 4, for Hoosier Hysteria?

“Oh yeah, Devin Robinson, No. 1. I’m going after him first.”

(Photo credit: Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

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  • BC

    That is a really good class.

  • SCHoosier

    Well Exum’s dad went to UNC didn’t he? Maybe not so funny after all?? If that kid doesn’t go pro he’s getting the wrong advice.

  • IUDan

    So funny … You know, differences of opinion are fine and even encouraged here … But I can’t stand it when people are SO SURE they are right and feel the need to say it 1,000 times and then disappear when they are wrong – right or wrong they just look like a–es.

    This is a great pickup for us! Go Hoosiers!

  • Oldfan

    It’s about time that Inside the Hall ran a story about a player who is committing to IU. Please write a story about another commit.

  • The_Bob_Michaels

    Everybody will have an opening for Dante. I think we’re right at the top of the list, but the kid would be silly to not grab the big $$$ in the circus called the NBA.

    Regardless, Robert is an outstanding player and young man. So happy we get to see him play in candystripes. Now, lets get Devin, Goodluck, and maybe even JBj. That would be amazing.

  • mdtiu88

    I think I have checked ITH over 10 times since yesterday just to make sure nothing has changed….still cant believe we got this guy, perfect fit for IU as a player and as individual…. CTC and staff continued to get quality young men!

  • Quickiedahoosier

    Should we get Devin and Goodluck that would give us the best recruiting class in the Big 10 for the 3rd year in a row. We are back for the long haul and it is going to be a lot of fun watching this team develop over the next 4 years and beyond !

  • Corey M

    Kerry Smith gave him the down vote… Obviously!

  • Mark H

    Blackman Who?? Go ahead and go to Kentucky. The $$$ are way better!!!

  • hoosier1158

    I just hope no one says Boo bought a few IU bumper stickers 20 years ago…

  • gonzo812

    Predicting most any recruit’s impact on a team is tough to do unless they are truly lottery pick talent coming out of high school. With that said, I’m with some of the posters saying they’d rather have ROJO than Whitehead. It may come off as bitter “homers” just hyping the player that chose us, and downing players who didn’t but I think ROJO will be a better college player because he can come in and help us for AT LEAST 3 years. Whitehead will likely leave after one season, whether it’s the right choice or not. I would never say pass on a player because they may leave after one season but getting someone who can come in and fill 3 needs for us immediately (playing the 1 and 2, and being a good potentially great shooter) helps the program much more in the grand scheme of things. Whitehead will almost certainly have a better freshman year, but if that was all we’d get, doesn’t that almost immediately make ROJO a better recruit for us since we can develop him for more than one season? Looking ahead to his frosh and sophomore years, depending on who else we add, and lose early to the draft or transfers, we have the chance of being incredibly deep for those seasons. Like ’92 deep. I love the mix of top tier talent mixed with hungry, undervalued 4 stars that will grow in the system and obviously in Cook when J.J. get a hold of them. Longer story shortened, stop acting like the sky is falling all of the time, and that CTC doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing. At least with recruiting. The rest about CTC is a whole other story.

  • gonzo812

    BTW, depending on the development of HMP, I’d rather have Devin than Goodluck but would love for both to come. I can’t see Jurkin on scholarship at IU past this season unless somethings really change for him. If his career here never really gets under way, it would be nice to add two big bodies, although I think Devin will be primarily a wing player regardless of his size.

  • JB07

    Ohio State’s current commits might have something to say about that

  • gonzo812

    Or maybe Crean was showing no one man is bigger than the team, and his current teams practice is more important than someone who is still in High School. I totally agree pops didn’t sound like he was sold on the decision but when ROJO has a degree in 3 years he’ll have a whole new tone about IU I bet.


    I’m sure the taliban of college bball (ncaa) has their shovels out searching for them right now. I heard they found a car that could possibly maybe kinda belong to him that has an old IU sticker on it and that they are having it carbon dated at this very moment.

  • 6thbanner

    It is scary how similar Robert is to the old MC3! (Mo Creek)

  • 6thbanner

    It is scary how similar Robert’s game is to the old MC3! (Mo Creek)

  • kwehner

    2014 is looking better now…..

  • PDXHoosier

    I think they have just as good of a chance as IU. The fact that UNC didn’t even contact him until after he had taken an official to IU is probably cancelled out by the fact that his dad went there. But to hold out for a top 5 draft pick is laughable

  • Ya, mon.

    Ya, Mon.

  • r

    Yes, if he wants to spend his college years in a beautiful setting with culture, it is hard to find much of both elsewhere in the state. I was comparing Bloomington to this state, but I think the same comparison can be made to progressive towns elsewhere. Do you need your diaper changed, or are you cranky for some other reason? Apparently my comment was absurd enough for three people to agree with you though, so maybe I am an idiot. Oh well.

  • Tucson Hoosier

    Yeah, I love the idea of having quality 3-4 year players that make up the bulk of our roster. I googled the rankings of our recruits since 2012 and just posted the first ranking that came up ( they vary quite a bit):

    Noah V – 13
    Troy W – 47
    Yogi F- 24
    Hanner P – 43
    Austin E – NR
    Stanford R – 56
    Jermey H – 41
    Peter J – NR
    Luke F – 39 ( I always forget how highly ranked he is)
    Devin D – NR
    Robert J – 42

    We will be seeing most of these guys for 3-4 years and building a true team. Don’t get me wrong, I would not turn down 5 star recruits, but I think we are building a consistent monster with this type of mix. Bam!

  • r

    And the setting and overall environment of the school, along with the other two keys I mentioned, are the three Devin has mentioned. I apologize for my initial response to your comment, bfblog. I was just taken aback that you felt the need to spend time insulting me, and to base your insult on only a fraction of what I said. Again, I apologize. It was attpical of me. I should have waited before sending an impulsive response. If I had, I never would have bothered replying.

  • SCHoosier

    Devin D is gonna make those ratings look silly before he’s done!

  • ufo3

    Robert Johnson is a massive get for IU. He is improving and rising in the rankings. Exactly what we want at IU, a high character kid, with high level talent, and a solid work ethic.

  • Dylan Young


  • aubreyhouse

    WOW! what a great guy… just curious if there are any updates on Dante Exum and would it even be possible for us to sign Exum-Okonoboh to join Mr. Johnson?

  • dwdkc

    In retrospect I’d have to give the edge to Michigan for the class of McGarry, GRIII and Spike Albrecht but we will see if Jeremy and Hanner can join Yogi as big time players.

  • Blair McKee

    This is what TC is doing best at IU – Showcasing the program to top recruits and closing the deal. Even the kids who don’t end up choosing IU speak highly of the coaching, other players and the program in general. This is precisely HOW IU is back as a premier program.
    Now if TC could not get so intimidated by gimmick defenses in the tournament…

  • SCHoosier

    Huuuummmm…if you are referring to the zone played by’s hardly a gimmick. Coach B has played it for 100 years (it seems like) and nobody plays it better.. TC and team adjusted well the year before against VA Comm’s relentless press..but the zone requires more patience and discipline than athleticism. True..Hoosiers did not execute well and that falls on the coach..but our missing open shots in that game (and we did a ton) falls on the players…IMO.

  • Benhyoung14

    I’ll second the notion that Jim Boheim’s defense isn’t a gimmick. It didn’t help that your best three point shooter had been cold since Valentines Day, and your big man was not comfortable taking the shot at the top of the key. Those two things were everything. Needed a bigger guard like RJ.

  • Blair McKee

    IU was clearly tight – that’s why good teams miss open shots, and flustered and seemed ill-prepared. That’s all coaching IMHO.

  • Remy Willing and Abell


  • HoosierDaddy

    This is Great but we need 1 more front court guy like Okonoboh, Devin, or Cliff. But Go out there and get those guys for us.

  • IU76’s

    RJ is officially a hoosier. Great addition to the IU hotbed of college basketball. Great to have RJ to the wealth of talent that is now and will be on the basketball roster!!!