Scouting Brian Johnson

<i>Inside Carolina</i>'s Clint Jackson analyzes the game of rising junior post target Brian Johnson.

Living in the state of Virginia, we've had a great number of opportunities to evaluate 6-8 sophomore Brian Johnson over the course of the last two years. Probably just as many, or more, than most in this business. We've seen him numerous times in the AAU setting as well as the high school setting. And having seen him so many times -- we wanted to provide IC subscribers with an in depth look at Johnson's game.

First of all, Johnson understands the game. He's very patient and he lets the game come to him. Seeing him in action, you'll know that he's been well schooled in the fundamentals of basketball.

He knows how to seal his defender on his back and provides a huge target for entry passes in the post. He has GREAT hands and catches just about everything thrown his way, so you usually won't see too many fumbled passes even if there's a poor pass coming in to him on the blocks. And he's got a handful of instinctive post moves in his arsenal -- from a turnaround jumper to a nice up and under move.

Secondly, he's a threat while facing the basket as well. Perhaps this could be considered his best asset at the current time as a college prospect. He's the type of kid that is going to open up the game for his teammates due to his accuracy. His jumper from mid-range is about as solid as anyone in the entire class of 2004 that we've seen. Much like Maryland Terrapin-to-be PF Travis Garrison, Johnson holds the ball high and has a beautiful, back-spinning shot with great accuracy.

Other facets of his game that are appealing are the manner in which he gets rebounding position. He's put on a good amount of weight and strength over the last year and uses his body to secure position down low for both offensive and defensive rebounding position. He also has above average instincts as to where the ball will bounce when it comes off the rim. His rebounding totals have improved by leaps and bounds this past year.

From an athletic standpoint -- Johnson is no Kevin Garnett clone. But he does run the floor well and he keeps his eyes open for outlet passes the entire time. He has good agility in the paint and dunks the ball with authority when he's in traffic. He's an above average athlete compared to similarly rated power forwards, but we wouldn't categorize him as an elite athlete by any means.

Perhaps the most intriguing mental aspect of Johnson's game however is his patience. He truly lets the game come to him and takes what the defense gives him ... or doesn't give him. If his defender settles back into position -- Johnson will take the jumper, and if he's double- or triple-teamed -- he searches the floor for spot-up shooters or the cutting teammate. And the kid can pass.

As the AAU season rolls on -- it's quite possible that Johnson's stock could ultimately drop a bit. But if that does happen -- don't be fooled, because Johnson is much better in a system that utilizes a smart and skilled big man as opposed to the chaotic AAU run and gun style that leaves him to generate his own offense.

And if you've seen him in action with his high school team, you'll certainly understand why he's much more efficient in such a system.

Related Links:
IC's Brian Johnson profile

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