With only a few days left to Friday night's tip-off, today we will take a look at a valuable player who will need to improve from his mistakes he made last year with Bryson Scott fighting for a starting position.
Ronnie Johnson -So.
Hometown: Indianapolis, IN (North Central HS)
6' 179 pounds
2013 projection: starter at point guard
Purdue desperately needed a point guard last year with the departure of Lewis Jackson, and Ronnie Johnson came in and filled that spot nicely. Playing in all 34 games, starting in 28, Ronnie finished his freshmen year averaging 10.3 points, 4.1 assists, 3.4 rebounds, one steal, and 2.6 turnovers a game. For a true freshmen guard in the Big Ten that is a pretty solid stat line.
However, Ronnie showed us that he is a miserable free-throw and three-point shooter, finishing with averages of 59% from the charity stripe and a horrendous 16% from downtown. These are two areas that Ronnie absolutely has to improve on this upcoming season if he wants to stay on the court during crunch time, especially his free-throws. His shot selection will have to improve as well. Ronnie finished the season as a 38% shooter, with a lot of bone-headed shots. This is also coming from a freshmen point guard who was asked to do quite a bit, so I think this year we will see a big improvement in that area.
Plus, having Bryson Scott fighting for minutes will force Ronnie to take smarter shots and make better decisions. Having Scott will be a big benefit for RJ. I was able to watch an interview on Gold & Black they posted a while back about the competition for minutes between Ronnie and Bryson. Painter pointed out that last year, Ronnie had to live and play through the mistakes he made because they didn't really have anyone to replace him if he screwed up, which led to him missing out on coaching opportunities. With Bryson available to come in, and Sterling Carter as well, Ronnie can have substitutes for when he makes a mistake and can then learn from them.
Ronnie has a lot of potential and upside to him. I remember during the IU game last year listening to Dan Dakich praise him for his ability to run the fast break and get up the court. Ronnie is lightening fast, there's no question on that. I also won't forget the CBI game where he drained 11-of-21 shots against Santa Clara, finishing with a season-high 27 points to go along with six assists and three steals. I think we'll see big things from the sophomore who ranked third in assists last year in the Big Ten, especially with a more talented and experienced team around him.