Arizona prep star picks Cougars over Huskies
Highly touted prospect Demarquise Johnson, one of UW's top 2012 recruiting targets, verbally committed to cross-state rival Washington State.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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What a tough week for Washington. In a span of seven days, the Huskies lost two potential starters, Scott Suggs and Tony Wroten Jr., to injuries.
And the losses continued Saturday with highly touted prospect Demarquise Johnson, one of UW's top 2012 recruiting targets, verbally committing to cross-state rival Washington State.
"It's somewhere that I can play right away," said the 6 foot 5, 185-pound shooting guard from Westwind Prep Academy in Phoenix. "I can get recognized. And it's a good fit for me."
Johnson said Washington finished second on his list, ahead of Gonzaga and UNLV.
Securing Johnson is a major recruiting victory for WSU coach Ken Bone, who has also received verbal commitments from Spokane forward Brett Boese; Oakland, Calif., forward Richard Longrus; and Richard Peters, a teammate of Johnson's at Westwind Prep who de-committed from Oklahoma.
Johnson is the biggest prize in WSU's newest class. He's rated a four-star prospect by Rivals, while ESPN and Scout gave him three stars. He is the top prospect in Arizona. When asked to describe his game, Johnson said: "Scorer."
As a junior, he averaged 20.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.5 steals per game. Last season, Johnson led Westwind to a 30-2 record.
Johnson said he and Peters were not a package deal. He said the major factors in choosing the Cougars were the chance to play early and the development of former WSU star Klay Thompson, who was taken 11th overall in last summer's NBA draft.
"Going to the NBA is one of my goals," Johnson said. "What they did with Klay, that was important."
Johnson also developed a rapport with Bone.
"I like the other coaches, but Bone kind of stood out," Johnson said.
Coach Lorenzo Romar said the 2012 recruiting class isn't "critical," which might explain why the Huskies are one of two Pac-12 teams that have not received a verbal commitment as the Nov. 9-16 early signing period approaches.
Johnson was believed to be one of the top prospects on Washington's list that also includes uncommitted big men Anthony Bennett, Zena Edosomwan and Landen Lucas. Edosomwan visited UW on Oct. 22, and Lucas is expected to make a trip Nov. 5.
Washington is also reportedly targeting wing Jordan Tebbutt, a three-star prospect from the Portland area who plays at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia.
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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