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Welcome To Cal: Erika Johnson

Previously on CGB's ongoing preview of Cal's incoming class of women's basketball players: Brittany Boyd

Erika Johnson, a 6’1’’ wing out of Holy Names High School in Washington, averaged 16.7 points, 11.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 4.0 steals and 2.4 blocks per game in leading her team to a state title and undefeated record.  In the process she was named the Gatorade Washington basketball player of the year award both for her play on the court and her achievement off the court.  She maintained a 3.57 GPA in high school and one of the factors that attracted her to Cal was her unique academic interests:

Johnson took a visit to Cal over the weekend and was drawn to both the approach of the basketball program's coaching staff and the university's structural engineering program.

We might have our next Joe Igber!  But for now let's focus on what Johnson can do on the court.  Here's the highlights from her final high school game, the Washington 3A championship:

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find any individual highlight reels for Johnson, but there are a number of team highlights.  I'll add my thoughts towards the bottom.


Unfortunately, it's hard to gain a ton of insight from these videos, mostly because they don't just focus on Johnson.  Luckily, we do get a little glimpse into the variety of skills that Johnson brings to the court.  We see some defense, a few jump shots, some solid passing and lots of fast break baskets.  Nothing in this collection really stands out from the rest as a wow moment (though the fast break lay-in at the 20 second mark in video #2 comes close).  What does stand out?  Versatility:

In any given game, she could score 20-some points, pull down a dozen or more rebounds, hit double digits in assists — or all three — with a sufficient amount of steals and blocks sprinkled in as well.

You can see the obvious speed and athleticism in the transition game, but she also used her superior size to score inside - exactly the type of adaptability you want to see in a wing.  My guess is that Johnson will be immediately challenged by the college game, because she won't necessarily be the fastest or biggest player in each game the way she appeared to be in every video above.  Of course, that's a pretty normal obstacle for any high school player.  With Lindsay Sherbert and Afure Jemerigbe on the roster Johnson likely won't be expected to contribute immediately.

But just because she won't be rushed into the lineup doesn't mean she can't force her way into the conversation.  We're talking about a player who played for a team that finished 3rd in the state her sophomore year, 2nd her junior year, and 1st as a senior.  That's the type of pedigree you love to see - a player used to playing high-stakes games and winning.  And in case you aren't convinced that she's legit, it's worth noting that she was being actively recruited by Stanford before a shoulder injury during the summer of 2010 scared the Cardinal away:

Johnson suffered a grade three separation of her left shoulder early in July, a key time in which she says UCLA and Stanford were going to watch her closely and make decisions on whether or not to offer. She played in only three games during the summer evaluation period.

Johnson was informed not too long after the injury that the Bruins and Cardinal were out and her confidence was rattled. Yet it was the group of coaches still involved with her recruitment that helped her get back on track.

Methinks she will have plenty of opportunities to show Stanford and UCLA just what they missed out on.  Welcome to Cal, Erika - we're thrilled to have you!