Johnny Flynn; ABCD Rundown, Part One

By all accounts, Johnny Flynn is having an excellent summer. The 5-11 PG out of Niagara Falls won a gold medal playing for USA basketball last month, and has played outstanding basketball at this year's Reebok ABCD camp. OrangeNation takes an in-depth look at Flynn's play over the last four games.

Intangibles - The first thing that jumps out about Johnny Flynn is that he always plays with a smile on his face. Even when he was on the bench, he was extremely active supporting his teammates. He appears to be a true team player, and was also one of the most vocal players at ABCD. He is actually very similar to former teammate Paul Harris in that he often directs the defense on the floor and dictates court spacing on offense.

Tangibles - Flynn has not grown much since I saw him last year. He's probably in the 5-10/5-11 range, and he weighed in at 170 lbs. He has very big hands and feet for a player his size. The most obvious physical comparison is to current Orangeman Josh Wright. Flynn has a more solid build than Wright had at the same age, and has superior lower body strength. He is so strong from the waist down that he can elevate effortlessly. He is probably a shade slower than Wright in the open court, but he is still very fast.

Game Reviews - I caught all four of Flynn's games on Friday and Saturday. His team (called the Bulls) went 3-1 in the games I saw, losing one game in OT to Alex Tyus's team.

Game 1 – Bulls/Mavs – Flynn was matched against #51 Demitri McCamey, a pretty sturdy 6-1 guard out of IL. His first play of the game was a rebound and coast-to-coast drive for a score. He grabbed his team's first two defensive boards and immediately showed very good open court speed. Flynn played exclusively at the PG position in the first game, with teammate Darius Gabriel playing off the ball.

Defensively, he did a good job on McCamey despite giving up 40 pounds. He constantly picked up and pressured at mid-court. He was very vocal on defense, calling out positioning for his teammates. He did a great job of getting back on defense to cause problems for the other team's fastbreaks. He even stopped a 3-on-1 break by jumping up to get a fingertip on a shot attempt by McCamey, knocking it off target. Flynn held his ground well when defending on-the-ball, but sometimes had trouble staying with his man off the ball. This turned into a common theme in later games.

On the offensive side, he had a few impact level plays. One came on a beautiful off-the-backboard pass to Hickson for a trailing fastbreak dunk. I've seen him use this play in the past with AAU teammate Tyrell Lynch. Flynn also got a big basket late in the game, scoring over Cole Aldrich with a left-handed lay-up. He finishes well with both hands.

In half court settings, he was patient and efficient with the dribble. However, he made some bad judgments on two separate fastbreaks, overthrowing alley-oop passes. Then he tried a tomahawk dunk to cap off an impressive baseline drive, but the ball slipped out of his hand and went flying onto the next court over in embarrassing fashion.

I think for Flynn's game to be successful, he will need to be on an unselfish team. He is constantly looking to keep the ball moving, and if that means giving up his dribble with a pass to a teammate, then that's what he'll do. The problem in this game was that often he didn't get it back after it left his hands.

Johnny will need to learn how to dictate tempo in the closing minutes, because he did a poor job of it here. With his team clinging to a slim lead, he allowed teammate Chris Allen to fire up three very ill-advised shots that led to an eventual tie at the end of regulation. Flynn's number was called for the last shot of the game and he got clobbered on a foray into the paint, but didn't get the call.

Alex Tyus took over the game in OT, starting with a vicious swat of J.J. Hickson that sparked a fastbreak for Mavs swingman Darquavis Tucker. Tyus then won the game on a baseline jumpshot. Flynn finished the game with a quiet 6 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists, but showed great poise until late in the game.

Game 2 – Bulls/Suns Johnny Flynn entered this game sporting a new look. He dropped the headband and went with dual wrist bands. The new look was accompanied by a new role on his team. Coach Rodney Heard moved Johnny off the ball and let Darius Gabriel run the point. This move actually proved to quite beneficial to the Bulls, who then won the next three games they played.

This was Flynn's best game of the camp and he started things off quickly by scoring on a backdoor play assisted by Gabriel. Johnny looked extremely quick off the dribble when he set up on the wing. A single hesitation and he was by the defender, Rutgers-bound Corey Chandler. When playing off the ball, he started to look for his offense more and made astute cuts to the basket. His putback dunk off a miss by Gabriel was truly one of Friday's highlights.

Flynn put up 16 points in this game and added 5 assists. Most of his scores came in the paint, where he used his very strong lower body to get off the floor and score around the rim. He loves to shock power forwards and centers by driving the baseline, then using the rim to shield off the defender and finish with a reverse. He did this multiple times throughout the games against numerous big men.

Surprisingly, Flynn did an even better job distributing the ball from the off guard position. He grabbed a loose ball at mid-court and threw a quick no-look over the shoulder pass to Tracy Smith for a breakaway dunk, then teamed up with him again for an oop a minute later. One of Johnny's biggest strengths is throwing crisp look-ahead passes on the break.

Late in game he got caught up in some one-on-one with Corey Chandler that led to a bad decision, driving into traffic and trying in vain to score on two big guys. However, he learned his lesson from the previous game and settled down for the last few minutes, when coach Heard switched him back to the point guard position. He hit his free throws at the game's end, sealing the win.

Part II of our rundown on Johnny Flynn's performance will be published on Friday


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