Culver City Observer -



October 29, 2015

When Jayce Johnson arrived at Santa Monica High midway through his junior year, he was still a young, 7-foot, 230 lbs man-child with an uneven basketball past and even a more uncertain future.

But, this month, Johnson's future became a little bit clearer when he announced that he has chosen to play for the Runnin’ Utes of Utah in the PAC12.

The Utah basketball program has been looking to replace their own 7-foot starting center who is expected to enter the NBA draft next spring, following his sophomore year and. I hope Utah understands what they are getting with Johnson. If his past travels are any indicator, Johnson probably will not be playing for Utah very long before he also decides to jump ship to the professional ranks.

In Search of...

Johnson started his journeyman career as freshman at Santa Ana-Mater Dei, where he averaged just 2.8 points and 3.1 rebounds per game when the Monarchs went 34-2 and won the State Championship in the Open Division.

Due to his lack of playing time, Johnson, then transferred to Serra High in Gardena for his sophomore season, where he averaged a respectable 9.5 points and 9.0 rebounds.

Moving On...

His junior year, he jumped across the state border to Findlay Prep in Nevada, a school noted for producing a handful of NBA players. But there, his play was limited, only taking the floor just eight times and averaged 3.1 points and 6.1 rebounds in just 12.8 minutes per game.

Another Stepping Stone

Quickly, changing course again, Johnson ended his junior season playing at Santa Monica High. He made his Viking debut mid-January with a 15-point, 11-rebound performance helping Santa Monica win 63-46 over Hawthorne and showing that he could be a presence in the paint at both ends of the court.

School Loyalty, What's That?

But, it seems high school has never been much of an anchor for Johnson and here’s the big catch: Johnson has decided not to play his senior year for the Vikings. Instead, he plans on graduating in December and has elected to complete his college requirements at yet another school-- making this, the fifth school he has attended during his four-year prep career.

Abusing the System

Clearly, Johnson and his family has found a way to take advantage of the CIF's newly-revised transfer system; letting him become just a traveling athlete in search of basketball programs to further his college and professional aspirations.

Too Easy

The more competitive schools in California with coaches who just want to win and young athletes with dreams of playing professional ball will take note of Johnson's journey through the transfer system. How he used the CIF system and will follow his example by freely moving from school to school--not for educational reasons—but only to enhance their playing careers.

Eye on the Prize

The CIF's new transfer rules have given athletes like Johnson the opportunity to transfer too easily between schools, while searching for the right coaching system which will best showcase their talents and bolster their chances of later signing a lucrative, professional contract--whether in the NBA or in Europe.

Change Still Needed

The CIF's school transfer rules were clearly changed for budgetary reasons. These rules need to be tightened or else its idealized image of the local star athlete playing for school pride will be just become another thing of the past.

Jeff Goodman contributed to this article


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