Toppers ink three new basketball players for next season

WKU Head Coach Ray Harper yells to his team in the second half March 22 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. KU beat WKU 64-57.

Tyler Lashbrook

Three new basketball players will call the Hill their home in the 2013-14 season.

On Thursday afternoon WKU announced the signings of 6-foot-5 guard Derrick  “D.J.” Clayton, 6-foot-7 forward Justin Johnson and 6-foot-1 guard Avery Patterson. All three will be eligible to join the team next season.

Clayton, from Castro Valley, Calif., is playing his senior season of high school at Elev8 Sports Academy in Orlando Fla. He’s a versatile wing who coach Ray Harper said has “tremendous upside.”

Johnson, an in-state player from Hazard, is a highly-recruited forward and the only Kentucky recruit on the Toppers’ board.  He averaged 16.3 points and 10 rebounds per game in his junior season at Perry County Central High School.

He’s an athletic big man who thrives on the boards and in the low post.  Harper called Johnson a “big-time player.”

“He was recruited in the ACC and the SEC for a reason,” Harper said. “I mean, he’s the whole package.

“He loves to compete, he loves to play, he’s not going to shy away from anyone. If we run into anyone in the next four years, he’ll be up to the challenge. I just know what he’ll bring to this program and I’m excited he’ll be in uniform next season.”

Patterson, from Decatur, Ga., is the only guard in the recruiting class. Harped said he loved Patterson’s toughness.

He is a backcourt player with a smooth jump shot who can play either guard spot.

Harper said each player wasn’t just recruited because they were good players.

“If (the recruits) didn’t fill a need, we moved on to the next one and these were guys that fill needs,” Harper said. “…Our staff did a great job of identifying some guys and being able to finish the deal.”