Oakland Soldiers Win EYBL Peach Jam: Stanley Johnson Exclusive Interview

Oakland Soldiers Seek Title at FAB 48

After taking home the 2012 EYBL Peach Jam Tournament Championship, the Oakland Soldiers have their sights set on the Fab 48 in Las Vegas, NV this week.

College Level Athletes caught up with Oakland Soldiers forward Stanley Johnson (SF/2014) and he discussed his experience winning the Peach Jam Championship, along with his expectations at the Fab 48 and the upcoming 2012 CIF HS basketball season.

Johnson is relieved now that the Peach Jam tournament is behind the Soldiers. "The run we had all season. People being hurt, people kind of doubting us. Aaron (Gordon) got hurt, Jabari (Brown) got hurt, the twins were hurt (Tyrell & Tyree Robinson), but we accomplished our goal at the end," Stanley said in reference to the past week of AAU competition.

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Stanley Johnson is the model teammate on and off the court and is quick to give his teammates credit. "Jabari (Brown) was the toughest person in the tournament according to me," Johnson told CLA. "He made clutch shot after clutch shot. Aaron Gordon kept my head in it, on and off the court, and he's our vocal leader."

This was the first championship the Oakland Soldiers have claimed at the Peach Jam in Augusta, SC. "Our programs make it to the Elite 8 and Final Four, but this is the first time we've won the tournament. We've been to Augusta before so the fans know who we are, but we don't have many fans out there," said Johnson.

The Oakland Soldiers battled adversity throughout the Peach Jam tournament due to injuries, amongst other things. Being far removed from the West Coast, the Soldiers were able to win despite the raucous atmosphere at the games.

"Luckily the teams (Oakland Soldiers) that came before us were really good, so they've (SC) seen the Soldiers before. Most of the games we played, every time we scored they were really loud and every time we scored it was quiet. It was just us as a team. We had to keep our head in it and just keep playing," Johnson expressed.

Going into the Las Vegas Fab 48 tournament, the Oakland Soldiers are prepared to take home the crown.

"We're fully healthy right now. We got a couple of days of rest. We expect to win this tournament, just like we did the last tournament. We should be the number one team in the country and we don't want to lose that. We want to be the first Oakland Soldiers team to go finish number one in the country."

Johnson said that his team has high expectations for the Fab 48 tournament. "We're trying to win every game by 30 or more. Shoot for the stars and hopefully land in the clouds."

Going into his junior season, Stanley Johnson is ready to be the leader that Mater Dei needs to get back to the CIF State Championship game. As one of the top players among the class of 2014 HS basketball recruits, Johnson knows that the pressure is on his shoulders when the season starts this year.

"I've been looking towards this year, to have the team be mine. I'm more a vocal leader this year. If I don't take our team back to the CIF Championship, they won't think I'm as good as I am. It's always the task at hand to get back to where we were last year." said Johnson.

"It's going to harder than it was my freshman and sophomore years, but we have the tools to do it. Jordan Strawberry, Elijah Brown, Chris Nealy, Andrew Tisdale and the guys. We have a great supporting cast and I think we can do it again this year."

Playing overseas with the USA Basketball U17 Team has given Johnson exposure to a lot of international hoops competition. As a result, the Mater Dei junior has developed a deeper arsenal in his game. In addition, Johnson's experience with coaching provided by Team USA has helped him become more fundamentally sound.

Specifically, he credits the differences of international basketball with helping him increase the range on his jump shot.

"For my game, I think it was the deeper lines on the court. The lines are almost like the NBA lines and my outside shooting had to expand a little bit. At Peach Jam, the lines were college lines and it seemed a lot closer, so I was stepping back and taking shots."

If Stanley Johnson continues to play the consistent basketball he has become accustomed to playing, the Oakland Soldiers have more than enough fire power to remain atop the AAU basketball circuit for the remainder of the summer.

Look for more exclusive updates from Stanley Johnson and other top SoCal recruits on College Level Athletes as the season progresses.