It appears former St. Joseph basketball standouts DeAndre Johns and Matthew Brown made the right decisions.
After Johns finished with a school-record 1,856 points thanks to playing in all 95 games and becoming Kenosha’s first four-time, first-team All-County selection, he had only one place to play college basketball after graduating last season: Cardinal Stritch.
So Johns, who ranked 21st in the state and second in the Metro Classic Conference last year with an average of 24.7 points per game, enrolled at Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix.
Students go for one year to the school, which is “dedicated to developing excellence in student-athletes by preparing them for success in college and beyond,” according to its website.
Tony Snell of the Milwaukee Bucks went there, and Johns is glad he did, too.
“I feel like I could go to a lot bigger (college) since I was talking to a lot of Division I schools in the past,” Johns said. “Especially since I get to play against better competition, and it shows that I can do what I did in high school against better competition.”
Brown’s first season at St. Joseph in 2015-16 resulted in him making second-team All-County — he was the only freshman to make the squad — after averaging 16.3 points per game. He scored in double figures in 20 of his 22 games and was ranked the fifth-best freshman in the state by WisSports.net.
But Brown left St. Joseph after one season to compete at a prep school called Victory Rock Academy in Bradenton Fla., where he averaged 15 points per game.
“I wanted to go to Florida,” Brown said. “I felt like the competition in Wisconsin wasn’t helping me. “Every team you went up against (in Florida), it was a game. At St. Joe’s, some of the other teams weren’t good enough.”
The 6-foot guard is currently at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia, which has produced 23 National Basketball Association players since 1998.
The junior went there because he felt like it was the best opportunity for him.
“They had connections to colleges that other schools I was at didn’t have connections to,” Brown said.
Brown is averaging 15 points a game and he says is he getting recruited by the University of Wisconsin, Michigan and UNLV.
“I think it’s all unbelievable,” Brown said.
Johns, a 6-foot-3 starting point guard, is averaging over 18 points and is shooting 48 percent from 3-point range this season for Hillcrest, which is 19-1 and ranked fourth in the nation.
“That’s pretty incredible at our level,” Hillcrest coach Nick Weaver said. “Because he’s surrounded by all D-I guys. We’ve got kids committed to Wyoming, Montana State, Denver, Eastern Washington. He gets everybody in the right spot and in a place they can score. He gets us going. He’s our catalyst that gets us going.
“He’s probably one of the best scorers that we’ve ever had here. And we’ve had some very talented players. He’s one of the best pure scorers I’ve ever seen. ... He can do a little bit of everything and he just finds a way to put the basketball in the hole.”
Another stat that impresses Weaver is Johns’ assist-to-turnover ratio (6.8-0.9).
“He’s not even turning the ball over once a game, on average,” the coach said.
Johns, who feels he really hasn’t “had an off game” this season, received a scholarship offer from Division II Minnesota-Crookston. He has drawn Division I interest from San Diego, UNC-Wilmington, American and Cleveland State.
“He’s going to be a steal for whatever Division I school he ends up going to,” Weaver said. “I think he’s a kid that his best basketball is ahead of him in college. He’s a guy I think that is going to be a great four-year player. Wherever he goes, he’s going to be successful, too. He’s a hard worker.”