NBPA: Evaluating Brian Johnson

By the time we got to the NBPA Camp last Friday evening, Brian Johnson had left early to visit with family in N.C. So, we spoke with analyst Thom Jones, of <i>PrepStars.com</i> -- because no one has the Mid-Atlantic region covered better than Thom Jones. He watched Johnson, a Carolina 2004 post target, earlier that day and has seen a lot of him over the past year. Here's his expert analysis ...

"For the most part, I think today he was Brian Johnson. Which means, I think he's a blue- collar kid who is skilled, he gets stuff done and is the kind [of player] who is going to give you a good honest day's work. So today was a typical Brian Johnson day. He got on the boards and was physical. The key for him is going to be how he progresses offensively, because he's not what you'd call an elite scorer, but is a physical kid, he's going to bang and he's going to be productive. He's steady and consistent – and I think that's good.

"He's not somebody who is going to have a high offensive output, he's not somebody who is going to ‘wow' people because he's not an elite athlete. But I think he's the type of kid that will grow on people. He's the kind of kid you appreciate after you've seen him a number of times.

"And I like the fact that he's a hard worker – he's an earnest hard worker. I noticed when they were doing the voluntary station work that he was there the entire time. And that's the kind of thing I look for because if guys are constantly working, even when they have free time away from the game, those are the kind of guys that are going to constantly improve. And that's what I like about him. He's a hard worker. He's not a flashy kid, but there's something to be said for guys who come into programs who score 11-12 points and get you 8-9 rebounds. …

"He's listed at 6-9, but I'm not even sure he's taller than 6-8. And that may be all he's going to be, height-wise. And, I'm not sure he's going to improve drastically, either. Athletically, he's just a better-than-average athlete. But skill-wise, he's very skilled right now.

"My only concern about his offensive game is that he doesn't really have a go-to, trademark, signature move. But, sometimes we stress the offensive aspects too much, and he's got two years [of high school hoops] left. One year makes an awful lot of difference, let alone two. He's got two more years, he's playing at a really fine program under a good coach, and he's playing for an AAU team that plays a national schedule, so he's seeing the best players in his class and the classes above him. …

"I've always been a Brian Johnson fan. And, again, he's the kind of guy that the more you watch him, the more you like him. Because you realize that his game is consistent and there's something to be said for knowing what you're going to get from a kid, even if it's 11 points and eight rebounds. That's better than 22-and-14 one night and five-and-two the next. Consistency is underrated in basketball. I truly believe that. And Brian Johnson is a very consistent player at this stage and there's no reason to think that won't continue."


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