EDIT: Anthony Johnson will redshirt this year. So uh, I guess you can disregard most of this post...
Sure, Anthony Johnson may be skinniest guy on the team pound for pound (6'3/175 lbs), but what he lacks in muscle mass he makes up for in athleticism...and swagger.
I mean come on, you've gotta have swagger to don the #1 jersey!
Johnson's potential contributions could make for one of the more interesting developments as the season unfolds. For a team that shot under 32% behind the three-point line last season, the Boilermakers desperately need a consistent shooter coming off the bench.
Seems like a great opportunity for the freshman shooting guard.
Anthony Johnson may not start the season in the regular rotation, but I believe that his accuracy, fearlessness, and athleticism will make it difficult to keep him off the court.
Anthony Johnson - Freshman
Hometown: Chicago, Il
6'3", 175 pounds
2010-11 Projection: Bench (possible rotation player)
If we've learned anything about Anthony Johnson in his two exhibition games, it's that he's not afraid to assert himself in the offense. His 11 points in 29 minutes don't come off overly impressive, but the manner in which he scored his points demonstrated why he might surprise a lot of people this season.
While Johnson is known for his three point accuracy, he's shown he has absolutely no fear taking the ball to the rim. He can score in a variety of ways, but his quick release behind the 3 point line has always been his bread and butter. Needless to say, this makes him very difficult to sag on defensively. Two comparisons that I find most fitting for AJ's game are David Teague and (a poor man's) Reggie Miller. Those are obviously huge shoes to fill, but I honestly believe it's not a major stretch.
This shouldn't be news to anyone familiar with his High School exploits. He commonly took over in the blink of an eye.
If you don't believe me, see for yourself: (fast forward to 40 seconds)
As a senior, Johnson led a loaded (and I mean LOADED) Whitney Young team to their second consecutive Chicago public school championship game, falling to Chicago powerhouse Simeon this past season.
Johnson's entire high school career explains where he got his swagger. Over the course of his tenor with the WY Dolphins, he played with and against some of the top players in the nation in the Chicago public school league. Despite the high major talent that surrounded him, he managed to stand out. As a senior, he averaged 16 points, nearly 8 rebounds, and shot 56% from the floor (48% from behind the arc). And may I remind you that this was on a team that had many players that wanted the ball in their hands.
Johnson has little reason to be intimidated by the jump to college basketball; he was basically already playing at that level.
If you wondering if Johnson will be a good fit for Purdue, a quote from his WY coach (Tyrone Slaughter) might answer that for you:
"He's still a very formidable shooter, but his other facets of his offense are sometimes overlooked," Slaughter said. "There are few players who are going to work as hard on their basketball game as Anthony. He's a gym rat. He's in the gym working on every facet."
Sounds like a Boilermaker to me.
But don't get me wrong, I don't think he'll enter the scene with out a few challenges. Matt Painter's defensive expectations are pretty difficult to meet for any freshman. It's likely his weight will be his biggest liability as it might be a bit of an issue defending against larger guards. Hopefully Johnson's natural athleticism will help mitigate this to a degree.
Based on his high school resume and the 29 minutes he played in the exhibitions, I honestly feel that AJ has too much talent to keep out of the regular rotation. He'll have to fight for minutes with Ryne Smith, John Hart , and fellow freshman Terone Johnson. I predict that AJ's composure and offensive consistency will result in a spot in the rotation by the beginning of conference play. I hate to predict where those minutes will come from, but lets just say we are all thinking the same thing... (And the same can be said about his fellow freshman TJ, but I'll save that for tomorrow).
Purdue's rank 9th place in the Big Ten 3P%. I venture to say that if AJ sees the court much this season, this ranking will vastly improve.