Thursday, April 2, 1998
Recruit considers XU, Kansas
6-9 JUCO star has Cincinnati ties

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Xavier and Kansas may end up going head-to-head this month. Not on the basketball court, but in the recruiting wars.

Ashante Johnson, a 6-foot-9 sophomore from Canada College in Redwood City, Calif., said Tuesday that he will visit Xavier this week.

He said he also is scheduled to visit Kansas and Florida State this month. Johnson said he is looking for a school where he can play right away and get his degree. He also likes the idea of a smaller school and smaller class sizes.

''I think I can bring some defensive skills to them,'' Johnson said. ''I like to run up and down, a fast-paced game. I'm not much of a halfcourt set-up player. I think Xavier fits me pretty good.''

Johnson, who has several relatives in Cincinnati, averaged 23 points and 14 rebounds for Canada (pronounced Can-YA-da) and was named first-team all-state. He helped lead his team to a 28-4 record and the final four of the California junior college tournament (160 teams participate).

''He's a tremendous athlete,'' his coach Mike Legarza said. Johnson, from San Diego, redshirted one year, then played a season at Utah as a backup to former All-American Keith Van Horn. With 6-10 Hanno Mottola on the team, Johnson left Utah because he wanted to play more.

Legarza, who has been at Canada eight years, said he has coached six junior college All-Americans, and ''athletically and potentially he's the best we've had.''

Johnson only needs to graduate from Canada to be eligible at XU. When Xavier senior Torraye Braggs played at San Jose City College, Legarza coached against him - and said Johnson is better.

''He's different, but he's better,'' Legarza said. ''Torraye was a strong player with limited offensive skills. He could only score right around the basket. Ashante can shoot threes. He can bounce the ball like a guard. Ashante's a lot more versatile and more of an offensive threat.''

XU may play Kentucky