Johnson prepared to fill major role

There are high expectations for Nick Johnson's performance next season, but he should be able to fill a major role immediately.

The Arizona Wildcats are coming down the stretch of their season and hoping to make a run through the NCAA Tournament. Still there is a lot of excitement surrounding how good Arizona can be next season. A big reason for the excitement is the recruiting class being brought in. Here is a look at how all four newcomers will fit in starting with Nick Johnson.

From the day Sean Miller got the job at Arizona he targeted Nick Johnson as a must get player. The Arizona native was a priority from the very beginning, and the 6-foot-3 and 190 pound scoring guard has the ability to bring something very different to the table than what any current Wildcat possesses.

In the past when at Xavier, Miller always seemingly had the benefit of one lock down defensive player. When he took over it was Justin Cage. The 6-foot-6 and 235 pound Cage drew the opponents best player whether it was power forward or a guard.

When Cage graduated that role was assigned to Stanley Burrell. The 6-foot-3 and 210 pound Burrell became one of the best defensive players in the country as a senior, and earned national praise for his on-ball defense within Miller's structure.

While there is no doubt that Johnson is a more talented player, and a far more explosive athlete, but it is very possible that as a freshman he will play the role of Burrell. Having a strong and athletic guard who can simply take a player out of the game is a luxury, and now Miller will have that option.

One of the glaring holes on the current roster involves defense in the backcourt. Lamont Jones isn't all that laterally quick and Kyle Fogg doesn't have the strength or mentality to be a defensive stopper. That is exactly what Johnson will bring to the table.

In Burrell's senior season he shot 39 percent from three, and most of that came off of catch and shoot situations being set up by a competent point guard. For Johnson, that is a role he might fill as well. While it is unlikely that Johnson shoots that high of a percentage, in catch and shoot situations he is capable of knocking in threes, and of course he can also attack some off the dribble.

Overall there is no doubt that Johnson will fill a major role. While it is unlikely that he starts because of the presence of Fogg who has had two solid years in a row and will be a senior, it wouldn't be a surprise at all if plays starter minutes from the moment he steps on campus.

Miller has the blueprint already in place for how to use a lockdown perimeter defender within the scheme of his packline defense, and it looks like finally for the first time since he arrived in Tucson he will be able to have that luxury.

Add in some decent offensive skills, and the strength development that will come funder Chris Rounds, and there is no question that Miller and his staff will have high expectations for a player who could bring back some déjà vu on the floor.

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