With American University assistant coach Eddie Jackson in the stands for Wednesday’s AAA Cedar Run District tournament semifinal matchup at Osbourn, the 6-foot-1 junior didn’t disappoint.
Showcasing his lightning quickness off the dribble, torrid outside shooting and the ability to get to the free throw line, Johnson scored a career-high 55 points.
It wasn’t enough for the Spartans, who came up just short in a wild 109-104 overtime loss to the Eagles. But the effort — which included five three-pointers and 20 of 22 shooting at the line, was good enough to land Johnson an offer from American.
“Nigel put on a show,” Broad Run coach John Costello said. “They ran two guys at him all night, but we ran ball screens up top and they couldn’t keep him from getting to the paint.
“It was just a ridiculous high school basketball game.”
Johnson’s offensive explosion was the highest single-game scoring total for an area player since Eitan Chemerinski scored 55 for the Jewish Day School on Jan. 21, 2009.
Johnson already holds an offer from Bucknell, which made its pitch after watching his 27-point, 10-assist, 9-rebound performance against Briar Woods back in December. George Washington, Holy Cross, Fairfield, Mount St. Mary’s, Loyola (Md.) and James Madison are among the growing list of schools who have also expressed interest.
At 29.2 points per game, Johnson leads Virginia’s Class AAA in scoring while averaging 8.5 assists and 4.6 rebounds. He has nine 30-point games this season, and has been held below 22 points only once — when he scored 19 against Stonewall Jackson on Jan. 6.
“He has the uncanny ability to make the players around him better,” Costello said. “He’s handling the ball 90 percent of the time, and he’s very unselfish with the basketball — which you wouldn’t expect from a guy scoring the way he is right now.
“He’s practically unpressable. His speed with the basketball is second to none, and he’s a legitimate point guard.”
Costello said he expects scouts from JMU and Loyola to be on hand Friday night when the Spartans face Battlefield with the district’s final spot in the AAA Northwest Region playoffs on the line.