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New-look Johnson focused at Reebok Camp

Sidiki Johnson’s bulked-up frame isn’t the only thing new about him this summer.

The St. Raymond’s forward came to the Reebok All-American Camp at Philadelphia University this week with an eye-catching ’do. Johnson is sporting somewhat of a modified mohawk, with a star shaved into one side and fire on the other.

It wasn’t his idea, Johnson said. It was a concoction thought up by his barber in Harlem.

“You just want style,” Johnson said with a smile. “I guess he thought I was a star and I was on fire.”

The rising junior was certainly the latter Thursday afternoon. He had 13 points and five rebounds to lead his Gatorade team to a 100-68 win against the Still Talkin’ squad at the Reebok All-American Camp at Philadelphia University.

He used his improved strength and size in his shoulders to crash the boards and get to the free-throw line early and often. Johnson was 7-of-8 from the stripe in the game.

“I’m having a good camp,” he said. “I’m just focused, my team is winning. It’s great competition. I love it.”

Unlike some here in Philly, Johnson is a known commodity. He has interest from a plethora of high Division I schools like Arizona, Kentucky, Providence, Marquette, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, St. John’s and Pittsburgh.

“Sometimes it’s hard to remember them all,” Johnson said with a laugh. “I’ll be leaving schools out.”

One thing he doesn’t have trouble remembering is the school he’ll be at next year: right back at St. Ray’s. Rumors have circulated this offseason that Johnson was going to end up anywhere but with the Ravens – at Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, even places like South Kent (Conn.) and Oak Hill (Va.) Academy.

“I had to clear that up,” Johnson said. “I never told nobody that. I don’t know where they got all that from.”

The big man is just focusing on this summer – he’ll be playing with his father, Bernard Bowen, and the Long Island Lightning – and getting better. Johnson said he’s working on all facets of his game, specifically jump shooting. He sees himself as a hybrid forward that can play inside and outside.

“I just create mismatches,” Johnson said. … “I love rebounding. I can rebound and start the break.”

Recruiting guru Tom Konchalski said his biggest strength is rebounding, but Johnson sometimes falls in love with the outside shot.

“He likes to think of himself as a 3-point shooter,” Konchalski said. “He miscasts himself as a 3-point shooter. One thing you can’t do too much of is rebounding. You can shoot too much, you can dribble too much, you can pass too much. No coach has ever taken a player out of the game and said, ‘Sit down next to me, you’re rebounding too much.’ You have to discover your niche; you have to know who you are.”

That’s something Johnson is still working on. But it’s clear he has made great physical strides since the season.

“My game,” Johnson said, “has gotten a lot better.”

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