Monday, October 28, 2013
Biancardi's breakdown: Stanley Johnson
By Paul Biancardi
Stanley Johnson is in the process of figuring out his recruitment, as Arizona, Kentucky, USC, Florida and Oregon are all on his final list of schools.
Stanley Johnson has always been a powerful presence, but it's his motor that has seen the biggest improvement.
Since his freshman season at Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, he has been a bigger and stronger prospect than most players.
Under the tutelage of Gary McKnight and his staff, Johnson has made consistent strides as of one the best in his class. In our most recent rankings, he jumped up from No. 12 to No. 9.
Let’s break down what makes him special:
Power and motor: Johnson has always had a good frame and physique, but in this past year he has refined his college-ready body. He is more powerful than most players, and that becomes a factor on every finish, defensive stand and rebound. But his motor might be the area he has improved the most. He always showed up and played, but over the past year he is trying to dominate with a consistent effort, which is rare among top players. His effort is not just limited to scoring because he is also getting back on defense, being alert and active on each play and trying to own the glass. He credits former Oakland Soldier AAU teammate and current Arizona Wildcat Aaron Gordon for his motor. "Aaron set a great example of what it means to give it your all. I am thankful it rubbed off on me.”
Three-level scorer: Early in his career, Johnson started close to the basket by posting up and playing with his back to the basket. Finishing on a transition play has been a strength of his for quite some time.
Over time, his ball skills, footwork and shooting have greatly improved. He can work and get position inside because he is strong in his lower body and gains leverage to power through defenders or make a post move. When in the paint, he is alert to finish drop-off passes and put-backs.
Outside the paint, at the high post or the pinch post, he functions with efficiency as he will catch, face up and become a triple threat. He is best at being a power drive-to-the-basket player from different locations on the floor.
After watching him over the years, he operates best right now in midpost where he catches the ball, faces the rim at about 12-15 feet on the baseline and drives in the lane. This gives him the advantage and power to score, get fouled and sometimes both. He will make jumpers and pass from these spots as well.
His long-range jumper has improved and so has his shot selection because he is a mature player. Johnson is not a knockdown shooter. He is a developing shooter and is not far away from being a legitimate threat from long distance. But right now, his game creates fouls, and he will always get a share of his points from the line.
Works the glass: Johnson has always rebounded the ball well. At a young age, he has been taught to be disciplined and is physically strong enough to excel in this area.
Throughout the difficult Nike EYBL, his rebounding numbers were at 9.8 per game. That number puts him as the sixth-best rebounder among hundreds of elite competitors in that league.
He is committed defensively, will clean the glass and has the capability to go with a speed dribble in the open floor. He does not just stand around offensively and watch the play. He will actively crash the offensive boards looking for second-chance possessions and points.
Versatility and growth: Don’t forget about him on the defensive end. Johnson is not a post player, but he can defend the post. He's big enough and quick enough to guard and front the post. Inside the arc, he's comfortable rotating and helping. On the outskirts of the perimeter, he will contest jumpers.
I have seen him switch onto smaller guards and get low enough to keep them out of the lane. Beside his improving jumper, Johnson must become a better free-throw shooter. Over the course of 20 games at the Nike EYBL, his free-throw percentage was in the low-60s, which is poor.