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February 13, 2011Saturday was a good day for Auburn first-year coach Tony Barbee.
His Tigers first overcame a 19-point, second-half deficit to beat Mississippi State 65-62. Following the big SEC win, Barbee received his first verbal commitment for the 2012 class.
Milton (Alpharetta, Ga.) three-star power forward Shaquille Johnson announced his plans to sign with Auburn. He chose the Tigers after getting recruiting interest from Florida, Clemson and Georgia, and offers from Nevada and Buffalo.
The 6-foot-5, 195-pound Johnson made his commitment after an unofficial visit to the Plains.
"I just like the coaching staff, the atmosphere there, and I feel like I could go in as a freshman and get a lot of playing time," Johnson said. "I also think Coach Barbee has the program headed in the right direction.
"For them to come back like they did (against Miss. State) shows what they are capable of doing."
Johnson's lead recruiter from Auburn was assistant Milt Wagner.
"I like him a lot," said Johnson. "He's cool. We have a really good relationship. I like all of the coaches. I have visited Auburn a lot and gotten to know them. They are all good people and coaches.
"I also really like the new Arena. That is nice. I can't wait to play in there."
Johnson is widely regarded as one of the nation's most exciting dunkers. In December, he competed in what some consider "the best high school dunk contest ever".
"My jumping ability and athletic ability are probably the best parts of my game," said Johnson.
During an AAU game in Florida last summer, Johnson broke the rim while dunking...during a game.
"(Johnson) caught a pass while running down the court, jumped from outside the circle in the lane and threw down a Tomahawk dunk (over a defender) so hard that he snapped the back of the basketball rim into two pieces," the AJC's Michael Carvell wrote. "The game was delayed for 40 minutes while officials hauled in a new portable goal."
Before transferring to Milton this year, Johnson averaged 13 points and 11 rebounds at Salem. He's averaging nine points and eight boards per game this year at perennial powerhouse Milton.
Rivals.com rates Johnson one of the top 150 overall recruits in the 2012 class and the No. 29 power forward.
He plans to sign with the Tigers in the early period beginning in November.
"I have a good feeling when I'm at Auburn," he said. "I feel really good about my commitment."