Mater Dei forward Xavier Johnson spent last Saturday at the Sports Arena watching the then first place Colorado Buffaloes take on UCLA.
The Buffaloes are good at home but like most young teams have their struggles on the road. That was evident last Saturday in their loss to the Bruins, but the future is bright for the Buffaloes who are playing in their first season in the Pac-12.
Johnson is a part of that future, having signed with Colorado last fall. He'll join Spencer Dinwiddie (Taft) and Askia Booker (Price), who are both freshmen at Colorado and Southern California natives.
"I just love the atmosphere there and everything about the people. I see it as an upcoming school to do great in the Pac-12 and be in the NCAA Tournament and I just want to be a part of that and be able to play as a freshman," said Johnson.
On Saturday night Johnson and the host Monarchs will take on LaVerne Lutheran in the Nike Extravaganza. The game will be streamed live right here on FOXSportsWest.com at 7:30 p.m.
Leaving the state has been a recurring theme recently amongst the top high school players in the area.
Johnson's teammate guard Katin Reinhardt will be going to UNLV. Orange Lutheran guard Gabe York and La Verne Lutheran forward Grant Jerrett are both headed to Arizona. All are scheduled to play in the Nike Extravaganza on Saturday, however Jerrett is questionable with an ankle injury. All four are local players that are rated in the top-100 nationally.
For Johnson, a huge part of the draw to head to Colorado is simply leaving California.
"I've been in Southern California most of my life. I want to see what it's like outside of California and I just want to experience other parts of the world and just see what it's like out there," said Johnson.
He's a former travel ball teammate of Dinwiddie, whom UCLA head coach Ben Howland offered a scholarship and admitted he was late in doing so. Johnson and Booker met each other, ironically enough, at the Nike Extravaganza last season.
All three of them could provide a Southern California core for head coach Tad Boyle in the near future.