Nick Johnson just scratching the surface
December, 20, 2010
By Adam Finkelstein, ESPN Recruiting
Nick Johnson had a highly-efficient performance for Findlay Prep in its win over Yates High School on Thursday. The Arizona-bound shooting guard went 8-for-8 from the floor, 2-for-2 from 3 and 6-for-7 from the free-throw line. He began the game in explosive fashion, throwing down a diagrammed alley-oop play in the opening minute, and punctuated his team's big win with an equally explosive one-handed jam with just over four minutes left to play in the game. As efficient as Johnson was, almost all of his offense came directly at the rim or behind the 3-point line. Johnson's performance was representative of this generation's swingmen in many ways (especially high-major swingmen). He's a high-level athlete that make plays above the rim and shoots the ball with range, but lacks the development in between. When I talk about an "in between game" I'm not just referring to a midrange game of dribble pull-ups and other scoring maneuvers from 12-to-18 feet (although that is certainly a big part of it). I'm also talking about players learning how to utilize their athletic tools away from the basket, as well as they do around it. It's ironic that athleticism has become such a requisite for the highest level of play, but still only rarely do we examine it with much depth. But athleticism comes in many forms and verticality (or the ability to jump) is just one of them. Johnson is the prime example. He is an explosive leaper who not only plays high above the rim, but has the physical strength and body control to elevate through contact.