Hear Me Out: Top NBA Draft Prospect Stanley Johnson Talks Timberlands and What’s in His Pregame Playlist

Stanley Johnson has been in the spotlight for a few years now, thanks to his talent on the court. He’s a 6-7 bowling ball of a player, a wingman who is already strong enough to body just about anyone he goes up against while still having the skills to play in pick-n-rolls. He’s a likely top-10 pick in the NBA Draft this summer after holding it down at Arizona as a freshman, averaging nearly 14 points per game for one of the best teams in the nation. And yet while there are other names who will go higher than him in the draft, there are very few who can hold a candle to his swagger.

When we dropped the premiere of the very first video episode of The Drop, Johnson was a perfect guest considering his unique combination of style and substance. We got up with the massive sneakerhead to talk about A$AP Rocky, what he’ll be wearing on draft night, and why he has the chance to become a trendsetting icon.

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How are you liking New York City?
I love it. It’s a big city so I love big cities and seeing new places. I’ve been to New York a couple of times now and it’s always different, doing different things. I got a chance to go to the NBA offices for the first time so that was fun.

Is it crazy to think about being in the NBA?
Yeah, it definitely is. Going to different cities now, knowing that I’m probably going to be an NBA player soon, you get a different type of respect. You go to different places and a little more doors open for you. But I still have fun. I’m still 18 years old. I still think of things in marginal terms.

What’s going to be the hardest transition for you going from college to the pros?
I think it’s just going to be the speed of the game as it is for everybody. You have to get used to the speed of the game. It happens quick. I think the jump from high school to college and then from college to the pros will be kind of similar, not in the speed but in how major the jump was. I’m excited for the challenge for sure.

Have one guy you want to go against or measure yourself against?
It would be LeBron James. He’s the best in the league so I want to see where I stand with him.

What’s a skill that you want to showcase that people might not know you have?
I think playing the 2-man game. Passing abilities, scoring abilities, and making plays in the 2-man game situation, I think I’m really good at that. In college, I didn’t get to show it as much as I like to.

As far as sneakers, what are you really in love with right now?
I wear a lot of sneakers. On the court, I probably wear a lot of Kobes, HyperChases, and HyperRevs, anything that’s light and low-top, really. I wear a lot of old LeBrons and old Kobes as well, probably some Jordans here and there.

Off the court, I wear Timbs and Ferragamo stuff when we get dressed up.

You wear Timbs all year?
Yeah I do. I think Kelly (Oubre) put me into Timbs like, I want to say about a year ago, and I got every color I could find and just started wearing them either with shorts or with sweats. I just found a way to rock them.

Are you the type of guy who wants to rotate shoes every game?
I rotate shoes every day, on and off the court. This year I tried to do a whole season of new shoes…well, we couldn’t wear Jordans so I wasn’t able to do it. But I try to switch them up. I have a lot of shoes. They’re all my babies so I have to show them some love.

What are your summer essentials shoes?
Summertime, you gotta throw your Vans on sometimes. You gotta throw on your low-top Huaraches, your Nikes, some Shelltoes, some low-tops.

Does your personal style change in the summer?
Yeah, it changes for me. In the summer, you go with some more vibrant colors, neon colors, white Tees, different mismatched stuff, get a little more trendy. I try to cut my jeans and wear some ripped jeans at night. During the day, I’ll wear some colorful shorts and a white Tee. I go to the beach a lot so you have your nice swim trunks and stuff like that so it changes with the seasons a little bit.

I was going to ask you about how you spin your own personal style into things, as far as cutting jeans and stuff like that.
I think I just do a bunch of styles. People try to stay in one. “I’m only a dark color-wearing person or a neutral color person.” I wear a lot of different styles. One day I can hit you with the skater stuff. One day I can hit you with more of the business attire, a button-up shirt. One day I might hit you with straight Cali. Vans, low-tops, white Tee, and board shorts. I try to keep it low-key and different, and keep people guessing, as people would say. I’m open to pretty much anything. I like the new trendy stuff. I think it’s cool.

What’s an essential?
You have to throw the Timbs in there, the butter Timbs. I think they go with almost all of my jeans. I wear my biker jeans with the Timbs and then you can throw any shirt on and you’re good.

Your IG page is pretty crazy. Give me the essentials you need for a good selfie.
The essentials you need for a good selfie…you probably just need to have your face. I call it “dark skin” face or “light skin” face. You gotta have your pose, your theme going. You gotta just have your face. Maybe you’ll throw some glasses on sometimes or twist the camera to keep it interesting.

What’s the best selfie you’ve ever taken?
Best selfie? Ah, I think I was at my pool, downstairs at my community pool. I was just chilling and there were palm trees. It looked like I was in Cabo or something like that. I had my glasses on and I was just posing a little bit.

Stanley Johnson Arizona
J and L Photography/Getty Images

Is there a celebrity that you really want to take a selfie with?
Yeah. I would say A$AP Rocky. I like his swag. His swag is different. If I had to get somebody it would be him. If it was a girl, it’d have to be Rihanna. I think that would go viral on everybody’s Twitter page and Instagram.

You like Rocky’s album?
Yeah. Yeah. I’m super juiced about his music. I’ve been into his music for about a year now. I’m not really familiar with everything he does. First, it was his style and his swag and then I started listening to what he is saying and then I started looking at interviews and where he comes from and I’m really a fan of his.

Yeah, he’s like the smoothest cat out.
Smoothest. Smoothest. He calls it straight. He’s smooth. I like his swag.

It’s crazy how much good hip-hop has come out this year. Talk about what music you’re really looking forward to.
I’m really close with some rappers. Casey Veggies, I’m really close with him. [Eds. Note: We are too.] I think he has some good music coming out. I think Drake is always going to have some good stuff out. There’s this guy named Show Banga from the Bay. I think he has some good stuff out. I’m excited about Future and Fetty Wap, the new people on the scene like Young Thug and what they’re going to do with their music after they had such a good start.

Everyone has their warm-up playlist. What are you playing right now?
This guy called Royce The Choice. He’s from Seattle. I’m not really big on mainstream rappers. He’s called Royce The Choice. Every time he gets on a track it’s like you can hear him. He’s on DJ Mustard’s 10 Summers and he has a mixtape out called Rich Off Mackin with RJ. It’s like every time he gets on a track, he really goes. I’m big on him before games, his verses. And then I’ll do some Fetty Wap, some Chief Keef, and just vibe out to that.

If you had a song to introduce you in the starting lineup, what would it be?
It’d be “Layup” by Future right now. I just listened to it. I’ve listened to it like five times today already. (laughs) So if I had one, it would probably be that.

As far as style, if we’re talking rappers, do you have anyone you like? You mentioned A$AP Rocky before. Is he someone you try to emulate as far as style and look?

Yeah, I think him. He’s good. I think Chris Brown does a good job mixing it up a little bit. I like the way guys do different things with their clothes. I think it shows what type of person you are, your personality through your clothes. So I think Chris and A$AP do a good job with it. I think they are good people as well. They are honest people and they kind of vibe with their clothes and their swag in general. Probably those two.

Do you have a guilty pleasure song right now?
Um, yeah. (laughs.) It’s “Favorite” by Nicki Minaj. I think it’s super, super girly, but I like it.

You gotta switch it up sometimes.
Yeah, you gotta switch it up. Definitely. (laughs)

Obviously, you are doing a lot of traveling. What’s one city you would love to checkout?
Miami. I’ve never been there before. Everybody talks about it like it’s the next-best thing since California. It’s on the opposite coast from where I’m from so I’m trying to get down there. I’ve never been down there before so I’m trying to see what’s good out there.

What’s your training schedule like right now?
Right now, it’s always nonstop. We’re pretty much ready wherever I go. Combine I wasn’t playing so I got in like two times a day, in morning and night in Santa Barbara where I train at. I usually go three times a day. It’s just about getting better. Basketball, it’s a job for me but it’s not a thing that I look at as an occupation. It’s something that I love to do so I just go. It’s no biggie for me.

Are people noticing you more often?
Yeah, it’s kind of weird, actually. I’ve never gone through something like this at this level, but it comes with the territory. A lot of people out here are superfans of basketball. They are supportive fans of good players. They do their thing so I’m happy about it. The fans have been so respectful. They are so awesome in New York. I’ve been out here for the Elite 24 and stuff like that so it’s always been love in New York.

Do you know what you’re going to be rocking on draft night?
Yeah, it’s going to be special. I have an idea of some stuff, some colorful things. I’m not going to say it right now. I’m going for the best suit. If not, I’m probably going to be the worst. I’m going to be outrageous. I’m going to go out on a limb.

Who do you think is going to be the most stylish on draft night?
After me, I would say Kelly Oubre. I know what he’s going to do. That’s one of my close friends. He’s going to be special for sure. It’s going to be something to remember for sure.

Follow Sean on Twitter at @seanesweeney