Over the past year or so, Montgomery, Ala., senior Roquez Johnson has spent a lot of time getting to know the Mississippi State basketball program. So on Monday afternoon, the 6-foot-6 and 195-pound forward made his collegiate decision known and committed to the Bulldogs.
"Well, I was talking to my dad today and my head coach and just decided to go ahead and commit," said Johnson. "It was pretty exciting and I am coming into a program with a lot of talent. I am just going to come in and do my best to help us compete for and win a national championship."
Johnson chose Mississippi State over other offers from Missouri, Missouri State and Murray State along with drawing interest from Alabama and Auburn. In the end, Johnson said he saw a brighter future with the Bulldogs.
"I have been liking Mississippi State for awhile now and known them for awhile," said Johnson. "They recruited my brother (Robert Johnson) at one time and he then went and played for Meridian Community College when Coach (George) Brooks was at Meridian. So we've had a good relationship for awhile now."
This past season, Johnson averaged 16 points, 13.2 rebounds and four blocks a game en route to all-state honors. He also played in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star game and helped lead Carver High School to a 33-2 record and the Class 6A semi-finals.
"He is a high-energy player with a long wingspan around seven feet," said Carver High School head coach James Jackson. "He is just a great athlete that runs the floor well, finishes well, is a beast on the boards and is a great defender. He faces up real well to the basket and gets to the basket well and what you call a slasher. Roquez can really get up on the glass and is a great leaper.
"We played him at the three spot and at the four spot. We really don't have a center because everyone is around 6-7 or 6-8 and all can handle the ball well. So Roquez would usually post up guys depending on who we were playing or he could step out and hit the perimeter shots."
On the AAU circuit, Johnson's energy and rebounding ability was also spotted during his play with the Alabama Challenge.
"An unsigned senior post player, Johnson gets a lot out of his 6-foot-6 frame," said Eric Bossi, Rivals.com National Basketball Recruiting analyst. "He's got lean strength, a great set of hands and is a quick leaper who tracks loose balls in and out of his area. On offense, he attacks the rim and has a nose for getting to the glass."
Johnson will makes his commitment official next month when the late signing period opens for college basketball. But his preparations for the next level and expectations have already gotten underway.
"I am just in the gym everyday trying to get better," said Johnson. "I know it will be a big transition and I am preparing for that now. Mississippi State wants me to play the four spot because I am long and athletic and I can attack the rim. I can also help at that spot because I can block out well and go and get a lot of rebounds."
Johnson will be the Bulldogs' fourth signee for the 2010-2011 signing period. Mississippi State also inked Rodney Hood of Meridian (Miss.), Deville Smith of Jackson (Miss.) and D.J. Gardner of Okolona (Miss.) in the fall signing period.