Showtime At USA Men’s U17 Training Camp
Colorado Springs, Colo. • June 16, 2012
Stanley Johnson (Fullerton, Calif.) arrived at the 2012 USA Basketball Men’s U17 World Championship Team training camp having helped Mater Dei High School to California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Division I state titles in both his freshman (2010-11) and sophomore seasons (2011-12).
Johnson also arrived with the nickname of ‘Showtime,’ a moniker he has held since his first year at Mater Dei.
“I was a freshman and came into school and could handle the ball and was playing point guard,” Johnson said on how his nickname came to be. “Magic Johnson was ‘Showtime’ so my coach told me, ‘You’re Showtime,’ because I was giving no-look passes to people. Then one of my friends started calling me it, and that was it.”
While his game may be reminiscent of the 1992 Dream Team point guard, the similarities don’t stop there. Like Magic, Stanley Johnson also carries himself with a wide smile both on and off the court. But does the California native understand the origins of his nickname considering Magic retired before he was born?
“I’ve watched his tapes on ESPN Classic, and my mom taught me how to dribble like him from the beginning,” Stanley Johnson said. “I’ve watched that and what he does with no-look passes and creating for players; I like him and try to imitate him a lot.”
A member of the 2011 USA U16 National Team that compiled a 5-0 record on their way to the gold medal at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Cancun, Mexico, Stanley Johnson returns to Colorado Springs, Colo., with his mind set on once again representing the USA in international competition.
“It’s always fun being here at USA with the best players in the country and some of the best coaches in the country,” Johnson said. “It makes for some of the best competition in the country, and making the team is always the goal. Everybody is playing hard and doing well.”
Johnson averaged 8.0 points per game at the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship, but was sidelined after the two first two games with a dislocated knuckle. He was forced to watch from the sideline as his teammates won their final three games of the tournament to secure gold.
“It was frustrating at first, but when I thought about my injury I knew I really couldn’t go,” Johnson said on dealing with his injury. “My finger was still out of place and I couldn’t pop it in, so that was something I just said I’ll deal with it and get surgery. I had fun on the sideline cheering my team on. We won every game, and we had great players. We had great chemistry last year, and it’s fun to be around them. They still made me feel like part of the team.”
Last year’s trip to Mexico was the first time leaving the country for Johnson, who despite having to make some initial adjustments had a great time in his first experience abroad.
“It was one of those things outside of your comfort zone,” Johnson said. “We got there and it was weird because you couldn’t drink the water and do different things. I realized, whatever, we’re just here to play basketball and after that first practice, everything was really good and really fun. We enjoyed ourselves.”
While back in southern California, Johnson enjoys going to the beach and playing games at the arcade, which makes the arcade at the Redondo Beach Pier one of his favorite spots. “One-player, I like Asteroids and two-player, I like dome hockey and the basketball game, Pop-a-Shot,” Johnson explained.
The 12-member 2012 USA Men’s U17 World Championship Team will be announced on Sunday afternoon, and Johnson hopes to take ‘Showtime’ to Kaunas, Lithuania, where the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship will be played June 29-July 8.
“I just cross my fingers, cross my toes and play hard out here,” Johnson said. “That’s all I can really do.”