Robert Johnson: Evaluation

The kid with the normal name brings atypically scalding jump shooting to the lineup.


For years, the Boo Williams program has been a mainstay on the travel circuit. Dating back for more than two decades and claiming among its alums superstars such as Allen Iverson, the Nike-backed squad has produced too many blue-chip prospects to count.

But by its typical standards, the 2013 club was down. The team did earn a trip to the Peach Jam, but no one considered Boo's squad to be a serious threat. And to the extent the club did have success in such an elite league, Robert Johnson was the primary component.

Essentially anonymous heading into this spring's travel circuit, Johnson scored 16 points per game over the first four EYBL events. Despite not having as much as help as many other stars on the circuit, he managed to put up points thanks to his torrid jump shooting. While James Blackmon received my vote as the summer's top shooter, Johnson checked in No. 2 on that list.

His recruitment gained steam quickly, but his best was yet to come. He played his finest ball at the Peach Jam, showcasing at the summer's most-viewed tournament that he can excel on the brightest of stages.

And that set the big-time programs into motion. He accumulated offers from Indiana, Pittsburgh, Miami, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida State and Georgetown, among others, and heading into September he appeared to favor the Hoosiers over hard-charging UNC and UVa, with FSU also scheduled to receive a visit. He's currently undertaking his official trips and likely will announce soon.


Johnson isn't a pure shooter; he's a volume shooter. He compares favorably to St. John's guard D'Angelo Harrison, who averaged 18 points per game for the Red Storm last season as a sophomore. Johnson is a little small for the wing but shoots with a quick trigger and a loss of consciousness whenever he misses, playing with an ever-present belief that he's on fire.

Most college coaches don't want too many guys like that on their roster, but an alpha scorer always has his place. Harrison will take the big shot, and that competitive trait comprises a major part of his value.

Johnson makes his greatest impact from behind the arc. His quick release enables him to get clean releases even when pressured by teams that are familiar with his exploits, and he's skilled enough as a handler and passer to set himself up reasonably well.

He's so skilled, in fact, that he actually could slot as a combo guard or even a point guard. Down the road he may need to fully actualize that potential, too, but for college he projects as a gunslinger wing. That said, he certainly will provide a secondary ball-handling presence and mostly should be able to defend either backcourt position at the next level.


Johnson won't necessarily bring efficiency to the court. He's a higher-risk, higher-reward scorer, and teams stocked with blue-chippers may need to leverage against his penchant for taking a lot of shots.

Sometimes, volume scorers can remain effective even with fewer attempts, but many others don't quite look comfortable unless they're a (or the) primary weapon. That playing style frequently requires molding for college, and role cultivation can be challenging.

Johnson also may experience some trouble defensively versus taller and stronger wings, depending upon the matchup. And while he's reasonably quick, he doesn't possess elite explosiveness and is far better from the perimeter than he is creating off the dribble.


Many questions you'd hurl about Johnson's game apply more directly to the pros than college. So many prospects with his attributes have arisen over the years to great effect in college, it would be silly to focus on whatever long-term dark clouds may float over the horizon.

He'll need to hone his approach in order to acclimate to greater structure, of course, but Johnson's ability to furiously knock in deep shots could enable him to become a fearsome weapon for any program.

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