LAS VEGAS — The NCAA breaks the July basketball recruiting period into three periods of four days each, allowing players and coaches alike a brief chance to recover from the hectic sessions.
At least that’s the spirit of it.
Tucson’s Terrence Johnson has other ideas. He uses the time “off” to live out his other athletic life, as a Division I football prospect who has already attracted offers from Arizona and San Diego State.
This is how the month is going for the rising senior from Cienega High School: While playing for the Arizona Power Black club’s elite basketball team, he competed in St. Louis earlier this month, then returned home to work on football. Then he left last week for Los Angeles … and came home to finish offseason football training.
This week, it’s Las Vegas — and basketball — again.
Two personalities. One tired body.
“It’s very tough,” Johnson said. “It’s like I don’t get to get the work in that I want to get in, basketball then football. It feels like the work I put in for one sport goes away. Basketball-wise, since it’s more ball-handling and shooting, when you don’t do that for a while it kind of hurts you.”
Partly for that reason, Johnson is at a point in his career where top athletes usually begin to specialize, usually picking the sport that offers them the best chance to succeed at higher levels.
But Johnson tried that already and didn’t like it.
“I’m still looking to play both ways,” he said. “My eighth-grade year, I only played basketball. Then going into my freshman year, I thought I was going to be a football player.”
He kept playing both, serving as a wide receiver and defensive back in football and as a guard in basketball. Neither his coaches at Cienega nor on the Arizona Power Black appear to have a problem with that arrangement.
“He really does a good job of balancing everything,” said David Thomas, a former Catalina High School coach who heads another of the Power Black’s teams. “He’s really mature for his age and good at time management. He’s really dedicated to both sports.”
Johnson said his high school coaches communicate and “kind of share me,” and college recruiters are OK with his dual tendencies, too. Thomas said Johnson’s basketball stock rose after playing in a Canadian tournament last spring, and many schools are still offering him a chance to play both sports.
Except UA. But if Johnson opts to play football for Rich Rodriguez, he just might knock on the basketball office doors someday.
“I’d definitely ask Sean (Miller, UA coach) about it,” Johnson said, smiling.
So far, Johnson said he has received football scholarship offers from Arizona and SDSU plus basketball offers from Portland and Weber State. In addition, San Jose State has been recruiting him for basketball — but said it’s OK if he wants to play football, too — and Montana has pitched him with a reverse, football-first idea.
It’s enough to make Johnson’s head spin.
In both directions, of course.
“I’m just trying to balance it out right now,” Johnson said. “It’s kind of tough. My heart will lead me in the right way.”