This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

  Follow Rayno on Twitter @AmeliaRayno

Jarvis Johnson taking more of a lead role this AAU season

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: May 6, 2014 - 11:55 AM

A lot has changed for Jarvis Johnson. 

A year ago at this time, the DeLaSalle point guard was a shadow behind Howard Pulley teammates Tyus Jones and Reid Travis (who also attended DeLaSalle): a pair of top recruits being wooed by elite programs across the country. Then, Johnson was a bit wide-eyed, watching the players that acted as his mentors, and soaking up the process.

Now, the rising senior is running the show. He's top dog on Howard Pulley; one of the state's top players for the class of 2015. And as his recruitment grows, the 6-1, 185-pound Johnson -- always a polite young man -- is acting the part, speaking more eloquently and with a greater confidence than before.

"It's kind of a big role, I've got to step up a little bit," Johnson said of the change at the start of the AAU season. "So I'm just trying to carry my team as much as I can and lead by example."

When it comes to his recruitment, he's not in a hurry. While Minnesota was thought to be an early favorite for the speedy, athletic guard, Johnson squashed a rumor that he had already committed at the Howard Pulley Invitational last weekend. Rather, the number of programs involved is only growing, and a lot could change over the summer, when coaches will turn their focus to the 2015 class.

Currently, Johnson -- who is ranked 85th nationally according to rivals.com -- said the schools that are going after him the hardest right now include Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa State, Kansas and Marquette.

"I'm really just taking my time, communicating with coaches," Johnson said, noting that he's thought plenty about playing in the Big Ten. "I used to go to Big Ten games a lot, being from Minnesota. Playing in the Big Ten I'm sure would be fun."

Pitino said he talks with Gophers coach Richard Pitino and assistant Ben Johnson -- a DeLaSalle alum -- regularly. Last year, Johnson went to "three or four" Minnesota home games, and has followed the team pretty closely.

Johnson said he hopes to schedule some official visits this summer, but he doesn't have any plans yet, other than saying he wanted to unofficially tour Michigan State. There is no timeline for cutting down his list, he said.

For now, he's just focusing on improving his jump shot and on-ball defense and letting his recruitment expand as it will. Johnson is in the unique situation of having a pair of "tutors" -- Travis at his high school and Jones playing his same position -- coming up ahead of him to give him advice and allow him to learn through observation. Johnson still talks to Jones about his game regularly, he said. Both Jones and Travis were on site to watch Johnson and the rest of the Invitational last Saturday.

Ultimately, though, Johnson is carving his own path. He seems to be enjoying the next stage of his recruitment. His humble demeanor will serve him well in the summer ahead, when the attention will only grow.

"You've probably just got to figure out where you fit in best," he said. "It's not about the school name, it's about where you fit in."

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