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Xavier Johnson

Xavier Johnson

Xavier Johnson, for the time being, appears to no longer be a part of the Nebraska basketball team's 2018 recruiting class.

Johnson told several outlets Friday afternoon that he had requested a release from his national letter of intent to Nebraska and planned to reopen his recruitment. 

Reached Friday afternoon, Nebraska coach Tim Miles said the Huskers hadn't yet received anything formal from Johnson in regard to his release, but it was "just a matter of time."

Rated a three-star recruit, Johnson was considered the top prize in Nebraska's 2018 class. His departure marks the first domino to fall in the wake of former Nebraska assistant Kenya Hunter leaving Nebraska to take a similar position at UConn.

Hunter was Johnson's lead recruiter at Nebraska.

At 6-foot-2, Johnson set himself apart with his lightning-quick speed at the point guard spot. He explained his reasoning for reopening his recuitment to the recruiting website preprecruit.com:

"I decided to open things up to help me take a step backwards to re-evaluate things again due to a coaching change with Coach Kenya Hunter,” Johnson told Prep Circuit. "Coach Hunter was the person who recruited me and we developed a big bond together that my parents trusted. I feel like I could go to him anytime in Nebraska when my parents wouldn't be there."

Johnson told preprecruit.com he would still consider Nebraska as he reopens his recruitment. 

Before he asked for his release, NU put on the full-court press in an effort to keep Johnson in the fold.

Miles and assistant coaches Jim Molinari and Michael Lewis flew to Arlington, Virginia, Thursday to meet face-to-face with Johnson, his parents and his high school coach at Bishop O'Connell, Joe Wootten. Johnson led the Knights to a 30-9 record in 2017-18.

Johnson originally committed to Nebraska in September 2017, picking the Huskers over Georgetown and Georgia Tech. He signed with the Huskers during November's early signing period.

"He'll play right away," Nebraska coach Tim Miles said of Johnson in November. "I don't think there's any doubt about that."

Johnson finished his senior season as the player of the year in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, one of the top private school leagues on the East Coast, after averaging about 18 points, four rebounds and four assists per game.

Johnson played for the Team Takeover AAU squad in the summer before his senior season, leading that group went to the championships in the Peach Jam in Atlanta and The 8, an invitation-only event in Las Vegas.

"That's not your normal high school, AAU-level basketball," Miles said. "He's going against guys that will be in college one year and in the NBA the next. So that's a pretty good performance."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7436 or cbasnett@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.

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Husker basketball reporter

A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

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