Loyola picks up a commitment from DePaul Prep’s TY Johnson

The combo guard, who is pushing close to 6-3 and has a penchant for putting the ball in the basket, committed to Loyola and coach Porter Moser on Thursday.

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DePaul College Prep’s TY Johnson (2) drives around Fenwick’s Trey Pettigrew.

DePaul College Prep’s TY Johnson (2) drives around Fenwick’s Trey Pettigrew.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

TY Johnson was participating in the IHSA state three-point shooting contest in Peoria as a freshman when he watched Loyola’s Donte Ingram bury a last-second three-pointer to beat Miami in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

He was next to his father, Ted Johnson, as Ingram’s shot set off a jubilant celebration and Loyola instantly became a national story and one of the all-time Cinderellas in tournament history.

“I said right there to my dad while watching that game, ‘That’s something I want to do,’” said Johnson of the magical March Madness moment. “My dad said to me, ‘We can make that happen. We have to find the right school.’”

Little did Johnson know at that time the right school for him would ultimately be that No. 11 seed he watched in admiration that day.

The combo guard who is pushing close to 6-3 with a penchant for putting the ball in the basket committed to Loyola and coach Porter Moser this week, announcing his intention to be a Rambler on Thursday –– his 17th birthday.

“That Final Four run changed my mindset about Loyola,” admitted Johnson. “They have everything I need and was looking for in terms of school, playing basketball and to prepare me for the future.”

As Johnson came down to what he knew was the home stretch of his recruitment, there was a school that continued to separate itself from the pack for multiple reasons. Moser and his staff continued a relentless pursuit and made an indelible impression, while the thought of staying home became more important.

“Over the past two weeks, coach Moser and his staff really showed me the type of development they had planned for me and the future,” said Johnson. “I felt like Loyola was it for me. They play in the Missouri Valley, which is a great conference, they’ve been to a Final Four, and I get to play for one of the best college coaches in the country.”

When the recruiting process began, Johnson said distance didn’t matter to him. As a result he had Colorado State front and center in his recruitment, he admitted. But as he inched closer to making a decision between his two leaders, he felt a shift in that thought process.

“I started to really like the idea of being able to have family and friends at every game, to have them right there to support me after a bad game or to make me laugh,” said Johnson, who had over a dozen offers. “Playing and staying close to home became more of a big deal to me recently.”

For Loyola, it’s the second local commitment in the past week. Waubonsie Valley’s Ben Schwieger gave a verbal pledge to the Ramblers last week. Now Moser and his staff have secured two top 10 talents in Illinois in the Class of 2021. Johnson is the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s No. 8 ranked prospect in the class.

Loyola is stockpiling talent in the backcourt. The Ramblers already have former Brother Rice star Marquise Kennedy, who this past season was named to the Missouri Valley Conference All-Freshman Team.

“I can learn a lot from Marquise,” said Johnson, who played against Kennedy in the Chicago Catholic League. “And I think I can play with him in the backcourt.”

Loyola welcomes highly-regarded scoring guard Baylor Hebb this year, who had high-major interest and offers in the Class of 2020 while averaging 23.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists a game as an all-stater in Texas.

And now Johnson, who boasts electric scoring ability, is another talented perimeter player headed to Loyola in the Class of 2021.

“It feels great to be wanted,” said Johnson. “But being from Chicago and to receive the love I received from a program that’s right here in my hometown and has had as much success, it makes it even more special. It’s just a great opportunity. Loyola feels like home.”

He can play both guard spots and is a gifted offensive player who can score in a variety of ways. Over the past two seasons he’s made a combined 119 three-pointers while showcasing exceptional range on his shot. He has speed with the basketball and can be a nightmare to defend in the open floor, attacking the rim fearlessly.

Last year as a junior, while leading DePaul Prep to a 26-6 record, Johnson put up a whopping 22 points a game while being named to the Sun-Times All-Area team. He also added four rebounds, three assists and 2.5 steals.

“Loyola is getting a heck of an athlete with a huge upside who is really good offensively,” said DePaul Prep coach Tom Kleinschmidt. “This past year, every five games or so he would gain and add something to his game, and he bought into being a two-way player. He’s a sponge, a gym rat and an overall great kid.”

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