Under-the-Radar Recruit Lands at Virginia Tech: Why He Can Succeed
Last week, Camden Johnson was a three-sport athlete at Metrolina Christian Academy in Indian Trail, North Carolina, a private K-12 institution with under 1,000 total students; now, he is the newest player to commit to the Virginia Tech Men’s Basketball team.
“I definitely think the team next year is going to be strong,” said Johnson. [I’m] excited to experience some good wins with the guys.”
Johnson’s commitment on the evening of Tuesday, April 20th, seemed to appear out of nowhere, a phenomenon that is becoming synonymous with Mike Young’s recruiting style. The transfer of Michael Durr and the recruitment of Jalen Haynes were also largely unexpected, and the arrival of former Wofford guard Storm Murphy had only been speculated because of Young’s previous coaching experience in Spartanburg.
Although the announcement may have come as a surprise, the Hokies have been in communication with the Metrolina Christian captain since the start of last winter.
“In November, I started talking to my basketball coach about [playing in college]; he knew a coach from Virginia Tech, reached out to him, sent him some game film, and they started watching me,” said Johnson. “Coach [Kevin] Giltner reached out to me and things went from there.”
Johnson, a self-proclaimed “huge Hokie fan,” will be following in the footsteps of his parents, who both attended Virginia Tech.
Standing at six-foot-two, the combo guard led his team in almost every major statistical category in his most recent season, posting averages of 14 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.3 steals per game. Despite being an obvious standout, the future Hokie received limited interest from Division-I programs during the recruiting process, an experience that has not been lost on him.
“I feel like, to a certain point, I was overlooked,” stated Johnson. “I think there is a lot of room for growth, because I’ve always been doing three sports: now that I’ll be able to focus on just one sport, I think I’ll be able to grow a lot quicker and compete.”
Now, the current high school senior understands his situation as a preferred walk-on heading into next season; he is coming in with another talented freshman in Sean Pedulla and will struggle to see minutes behind fellow guards Storm Murphy, Nahiem Alleyne, Tyrece Radford, Hunter Cattoor and Darius Maddox. Still, he is a raw talent with lots of upside.
Johnson carries enough size to handle himself against fellow Atlantic Coast Conference ball handlers and possesses quite a bit of athleticism, which he has referred to as his “biggest strength.” Competing in cross country in the fall and track and field in the spring, Johnson has posted impressive marks in both distance and sprint events: combine these with a few rim-rocking jams in his highlight reel, and it is apparent that the young guard has the physical tools necessary to compete at the college level.
The Hokie-to-be also has a sweet looking shot that he can get off in a hurry, whether off the dribble or in catch-and-shoot motions. Luckily for him, he will be able to sharpen his tools with one of the nation’s best quick-fire shooters in Hunter Cattoor every day in practice.
Johnson will come in with some familiarity with Mike Young’s philosophy, having played on a selfless, defensive-minded team in high school.
“I think it’ll be an easy transition, coaching style wise,” said Johnson. “At my high school, every guy knew their role, and we played well as a team.”
The addition of another athlete to Virginia Tech’s team puts them at 15 total members, with one scholarship available. Expectations are high for this outfit— ESPN writer Jeff Borzello even went so far as to rank VT as the 10th-best team in the nation heading into next season.
Whereas playing in such a competitive environment could scare some players off, Johnson feels excited by the opportunity to be around high-level talent.
“Between Storm [Murphy] and Sean [Pedulla], I know each of them are going to make me better, because I’ve never played with guys like them,” said Johnson. “Being in that group of guys is really going to help me become a better player in general.”
The start of the next college basketball season is only six months and some change away, and teams are beginning to set their goals for the new year.
Camden Johnson knows exactly what he has to offer to Virginia Tech.
“I really like to create offense and get my teammates involved; I do take pride in my defense, too.” said Johnson.
If there is one understanding that Hokie basketball fans have come to, it is to not doubt Mike Young; he may have just added another asset to the team.