Friday, September 20, 2013
Four-star SG Johnson picks Indiana
By Paul Biancardi
The first time I watched Robert Johnson (Richmond, Va./Benedictine College Prep) back in April, not only did he play well, he played with poise and stood out. At that time he had several mid-major offers, and some of the high major programs were inquiring. His recruiting since then took off like a rocket because of his impressive performance in the last six months. On Friday, he chose Indiana over North Carolina, Virginia and Florida State.
Why he committed: Indiana made Johnson a priority, and all the hard work came to fruition. Indiana has a great need for guards, and Robert can see himself playing right away as a point guard or a shooting guard. "The need was there at IU,” said his AAU coach, Boo Williams. Indiana also hammered home the point about Victor Oladipo and his improvement into a lottery pick, and that resonated with Johnson as he and Oladipo blossomed late in their high school careers.
Robert Johnson is a confident scorer and a good fit at Indiana.
What he brings: Johnson is one of the most complete guards in the country. He's a true combination guard as he can play point guard or the role of a shooter/scorer in a pinch. The strength of his game lies in scoring, with 3-point range and a pull-up jumper along with the ability to attack, drive and finish at the rim. He is not afraid to take jumpers in transition when he is open, a sign of self-confidence. As a point-guard type, he possesses the qualities of poise, vision and the understanding of how and when to distribute and make the assist.
How he fits: Indiana needed perimeter help badly as ESPN 100 shooting guard James Blackmon decommitted recently and Johnson, although not the shooter, will bring many special qualities and fit right in Tom Crean’s offensive style. As soon as Indiana gains possession, the Hooseirs release and run in transition to put pressure on a defense and score quickly. Johnson is equipped to play in that fast-break style of basketball for two reasons. First, you have to defend to break, and Johnson is a committed defender. If current point guard Yogi Ferrell was to get hurt or be in foul trouble, Johnson has the poise to play that spot. Second, whether or not he is leading the break or filling the lane, he is a threat to be productive. When the IU offense goes into a set-play mode, look for Johnson to be involved from a scoring or assist point of view. Indiana is not only getting a talented player, but also someone who has the traits of a hard worker -- a low-maintenance and a high-character person.
Who does he remind us of: He's a version of former Villanova great Scottie Reynolds, who also played his basketball in Virginia at Herndon High School. Both are well-rounded and have a completeness to their talent and approach. Reynolds stayed in school for all four years, scored more than 2,000 career points and was named an All-American.
How the class is shaping up: With two major decommitments in the rearview mirror (Trey Lyles and Blackmon), this is a much needed and big-time get for the Hoosiers. Their focus now shifts to size, and a small forward -- they are all over Goodluck Okonoboh and Devin Robinson -- could be next. They must get prepared if Noah Vonleh plays great and enters the NBA draft in June.