Peck sees bright future for Johnson

WildcatAuthority.com had an opportunity to talk with Findlay Prep head coach Michael Peck about how he sees Nick Johnson doing at Arizona, what his role will be, and his thoughts on Sean Miller.

On Monday, Nick Johnson officially begins his Arizona career when he enrolls in summer session one for classes. His head coach at Findlay Prep, Michael Peck, has been instrumental in shaping Johnson on and off the court, and has seen a lot of growth from his former player in his two years of coaching him.

"Based on everything we heard and witnessed in a short period of time before coming to us, Nick was inconsistent in his effort and how he played hard," Peck said. "We knew he was capable, but showing it day in and day out was a question mark for him.

"When he came to us, he brought it. He exerted himself in all aspects: academically, athletically, on the court and in the weight room. Then he just took off and flourished."

As far as Johnson's game on the court, everyone knows about his fantastic leaping ability and the intensity of his defensive play. To Peck however, one thing that sticks out about Johnson is something that few give him credit for.

"What people don't really talk about much but is important with our program and Arizona's system is guys that have a high basketball IQ," Peck said. "We didn't have to explain a lot to him, we didn't have to walk through a lot, we could just verbalize to Nick that this is what we wanted.

"He has an understanding and feel for the game and basic basketball concepts. He's always been a step ahead of guys coming in and guy that didn't have quite as high of an IQ. So for us, that gave him a huge advantage."

Off the court, Peck is equally impressed with the young man that Johnson has become under his watch.

"He's a very good kid," Peck said. "He's social, very personable, he has a nice smile, and is very likeable. He knows how he needs to be around certain crowds and people and can make that adjustment. He's a kid that likes to have fun that is fun loving, carefree, and is a typical kid his age. He's a great kid, definitely."

Since Findlay's season ended at the hand of Dwyer High School in March, Peck has been watching as Johnson used his final days of high school to improve his game prepare himself for Arizona.

"One thing he has been working on is his shooting," Peck said. "He's getting a lot of reps in terms of his perimeter shot. He's athletic, so obviously he always has that in his arsenal; but I think his perimeter jump shooting will be key for him."

As far as Arizona goes, Peck believes it will be the perfect environment for Johnson to succeed due to UA's head coach Sean Miller.

"It's one of the top programs in the country, hands down," Peck said. "They just had an Elite Eight performance. I like to think that Sean and I are very similar in a lot of ways in terms of philosophy and our approach to preparing our teams and being involved with our teams and working with guys to get guys.

"Sean is not a guy that is into a lot of the flash. He's simple; he's a coach. That's why you love being around his teams because he's working to get guys better."

If all goes according to plan, Johnson will play a significant role on next year's team, although Peck isn't quite sure what exactly to expect from his former player just yet.

"He's capable of making an impact because one thing he's going to do is he's going to guard," Peck said. "I know with Sean (Miller) that's one thing he'll demand. Nick knows how to play hard; he's done that for the past two years with us. He's won a lot of ball games, so I think that's one thing where he'll be able to go in right away and be a step ahead."

"It's hard to say what impact he'll make. You just don't know in terms of what the other guys and the veterans that they have and what they're doing in the offseason to prepare. I think he's capable of it, absolutely. Whether or not he comes in and start, it's hard to say. It's an Elite Eight team.

"It'll be interesting, it'll be fun, and I know he'll do great there over the course of his career."

For now though, Peck is happy for the opportunity ahead of Johnson and hopeful that he'll be able to make the most of it.

"I would like to see Nick be a part of a National Championship or at least a Final Four or a couple Final Fours," Peck said. "I would think that being able to be in the upper echelon of the Pac-12 is definitely an objective for him. Also to just get better and position himself to make money doing what he loves: playing basketball."


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