One of the many challenges Matt Painter needs to tackle this season is finding a third reliable scoring option. Purdue as a team struggled offensively nearly all of last season, but when Robbie Hummel went down, our offense was down right anemic at times. Without another capable scoring threat, opposing defenses didn't need to work as hard to contain E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson.
For Purdue to make it back to Houston this season, it's imperative that they find someone who can stretch the defense and create opportunities for the rest of the team.
So who is going to be this knight in shining armor?
Boilermaker Nation, I'd like to introduce you to Terone Johnson.
Terone Johnson - Freshman
Hometown: Indianapolis, IN
6'2, 211 poinds
2010-11 Projection: Bench (and possible starter)
Note: I apologize if this comes off as a Terone Johnson love-fest. I've followed TJ's high school career very closely ever since he committed to Purdue in September of 2008. I've tried to be objective when evaluating his game. Unfortunately, this is going to come off as anything but objective. Maybe it's the Kool-Aid, but I stand by my evaluation.
Terone Johnson is going to be a special player at Purdue. There is no question about it. I'm sure this is not the first time you've heard this, and I'm very confident you'll get sick of hearing it before the season is over. It's usually a risk predicting how a kid is going to handle the step to the next level, but in TJ's case there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that he'll handle the transition just fine.
So what makes this kid so good?
The hard part is articulating what makes Terone Johnson so damn special. He doesn't have ideal height, great speed or incredible athleticism.
Despite his deficiencies in height, speed, and athleticism, Terone Johnson has the body of a mac truck. However, it's a mac truck with the handles of a Porsche 911. To put his size in perspective, Chris Kramer weighed 10 pounds less than TJ as a Purdue freshmen. And Kramer was, well, pretty solid.
It's not just Terone Johnson's size that makes him such a great athlete. It's the mere fact that he does almost everything great. As a senior, he averaged 21.5 points on 54.1 percent shooting, 4.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists. It was his third consecutive season averaging at least 18 points and over 4 rebounds and 3 assists.
He shoots with such efficiency; you wonder how he averaged over 20 points when he only takes 7 or 8 shots in games. He can score in such a variety of ways, defenses have to stay on their heels. He can shoot behind the 3-point line with ease, but is also very successful bulldozing his way into the lane and using his size to create space for an easy jumper. He also has a knack for drawing fouls on the way to the hoop. (Okay, he could work on his free throw shooting...)
TJ's vision is as impressive as his shooting. As a point guard at North Central, he made everyone around him better. He played unselfishly; sometimes to the point that you'd wish he'd pass less. His unselfishness will be a huge asset on Purdue's offense as he will obviously not be the top scoring option.
While TJ's offense will be a huge asset to the team, it's his defense that will likely earn him his playing time. With his size and quick hands, Johnson is a great defender. On a team looking for someone to help ease (not replace) the loss of Chris Kramer, Terone Johnson may be the man. It might take a while to learn the D the way Painter likes it, but once he picks it up he'll be an enforcer.
This video gives a good preview of the many aspects to his game:
Terone Johnson is a winner. Sure that's a cliché, but it's can't be overlooked. He finished his senior year with a 19-3 regular season record and won the Class 4A State Championship (Johnson had 26 points, 8 assists and two rebounds in that game). He finished his high school career 65-18. And this was against some of the most talented teams in the state.
With all of that said, Terone Johnson has the it factor that will should make him great at the next level. However, this season he doesn't need to be great. He just needs to be a consistent third scoring option on an already talented team. Ryne Smith and John Hart might get the first crack at it, but with everything I know about Smith, Hart, and Johnson, I think we all know how it will likely play out.
Keep in mind that it's not who starts the game that counts. It's who finishes...