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Rodney Terry on Tre Johnson: ‘He’s one of the best guards I’ve seen in the state of Texas’

High praise for a coach who has watched and recruited the best in the state for a long time.

Texas basketball

AUSTIN, Texas — On Wednesday, head coach Rodney Terry and the Texas Longhorns pulled off one of the greatest recruiting coups in the program’s modern history by landing a signature from consensus five-star shooting guard Tre Johnson, the nation’s No. 1 player at his position and the No. 4 player overall, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.

A veteran recruiter of the Lone Star State basketball scene who has spent more than a decade as an assistant coach or head coach at Texas, Terry has a unique perspective on where Johnson ranks among the state’s guard over the last two decades.

“I’ve been recruiting the state of Texas a long time, 12 years here at Texas, and Tre Johnson is one of the best guards I’ve seen in the state of Texas and that’s pretty lofty in terms of the guys that we were able to get while I was here in the previous tenure,” Terry said after Wednesday’s 80-64 win over Rice.

Terry started recruiting Johnson during his sophomore season in the months after Terry returned to the Forty Acres as an assistant under former head coach Chris Beard, officially extending an offer in December of 2021, more than four months after Baylor, the alma mater of Johnson’s father.

Even at that early stage in Johnson’s development, Terry witnessed his new signee’s elite ability to get buckets.

“He’s a guy that I’ve seen play at a very high level from the first start of his recruitment. His sophomore year I saw him play against elite-level guys like Cason Wallace, guys that are top-10 picks, but elite defensive players and he was just giving those guys almost 40 points in games,” Terry said.

The matchup Terry was referring to was a district game between Johnson’s Lake Highlands and Wallace’s Richardson in 2022 in which Johnson scored a game-high 39 points in an atmosphere as electric as Texas high school basketball can produce.

After Richardson raced to a big lead in the first quarter, Johnson started creating offense from his defense and began showcasing his trademark ability to produce high-quality looks from the mid range off the bounce with an incredible handle.

As Lake Highlands tried to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter, Johnson hit a three off the dribble that forced a timeout by Richardson and finished a fast-break pass off the backboard for a resounding slam. A corner three by Johnson as the home crowd erupted caused Richardson to call for time once again as the Texas signee demonstrated his competitive greatness. Once again, Johnson hit from the corner, then managed to rescue a mishandled ball from between his legs to connect on a three in transition to improbably take the lead.

Even though Richardson was able to close out the win late, Johnson loudly announced his arrival on the national basketball scene.

“Some guys are wired to score — he’s wired to score,” said Terry.

And while Johnson certainly showed room for growth defensively in that loss to Richardson and still does, Terry believes that he has the capability to make an impact on that end of the court, something that Terry will demand when Johnson arrives in Austin.

“He also has a chance to be a really good two-way player and he has a chance to be a really good defender as well,” said Terry.

Ultimately, evaluations of Johnson come back to his scoring ability and a work ethic that drew a lofty comparison to Longhorn legend Kevin Durant, one of the greatest shot makers in NBA history.

“He’s one of the elite players to come out of the state of Texas in terms of scoring the basketball that I’ve seen in my 27 years of recruiting the state of Texas. He’s elite and he has next-level ability. He’s a gym rat — he’s one of those throw-back guys like Kevin Durant that loves being in the gym.”