RECRUITING: Cheyenne star ends suspense

The last thing Elijah Johnson wanted surrounding a basketball season with Class 4A state title aspirations was more recruiting madness.

So during his first official visit Saturday night, the Cheyenne senior guard ended the distraction by orally committing to defending national champion Kansas.

“I’m happy now I can focus on school and my senior basketball season,” Johnson said. “I needed to make the decision because I’ve got business to take care of instead of wasting time on this recruiting business.”

Johnson, ranked the No. 27 overall senior prospect in the nation by, also had visits set for Oklahoma, Texas and UCLA.

But he decided to forgo those trips because he “should fit in perfect” with the Jayhawks.

The 6-foot-2-inch Johnson projects as a point guard at Kansas, though Cheyenne coach Teral Fair has said Johnson will play “off the ball more than in years past” this season.

Johnson said he eventually should replace current Kansas starting point guard Sherron Collins, a junior.

“I want to play for (coach) Bill Self,” Johnson said. “I like the way they play three guards. I like the way they put the best people on the court no matter who that is. And they play a lot on national TV.”

Johnson’s decision ended a courtship that saw coaches such as UNLV’s Lon Kruger, Southern California’s Tim Floyd, Texas’ Rick Barnes, Oklahoma’s Jeff Capel and Washington’s Lorenzo Romar pass through Cheyenne’s gym.

“It’s been pretty hectic for both (Johnson) and I,” Fair said. “It’s a tremendous relief. He’ll be really relaxed and able to enjoy his senior year.”

Johnson’s father, Marcus, said the family felt comfortable with Kansas even before the visit partially because they have roots in the Midwest. The Johnsons moved to Las Vegas from Gary, Ind., in 2003.

Johnson sat with other Kansas recruits near courtside Saturday at Kansas’ Late Night in the Phog event at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence.

“When we saw the midnight madness and all they had, it was wonderful,” Marcus Johnson said. “That was icing on the cake.”

Elijah Johnson can sign a national letter of intent Nov. 12.

He averaged 14.4 points last year for Cheyenne, which went 19-8 and fell 76-72 to Reno in the Class 4A state title game.

With practice set to start Nov. 15, the Desert Shields appear to be loaded.

Fair said senior guard Demetric Williams is drawing interest from San Diego, Southern Methodist, Texas Southern and Washington State. And juniors Jaylen Henry and Chris McCall could turn out to be college prospects, Fair said.

“I think this year’s team is better (than last year),” Elijah Johnson said. “I’m the leader. When we lose, it’s on me. I want that pressure.”

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