Saturday, December 24, 2011

Purdue's point guard for the future

Johnson looks to take over at point guard

With the next Purdue basketball game more than a few days away, InsideMackey will take a look at one of the most anticipated back-to-back recruiting classes to set foot in West Lafayette for quite some time. Today we look at 2012 commit Ronnie Johnson.

Take a good look Purdue fans at your future point guard. With senior Lewis Jackson graduating, it seems that coach Matt Painter will hand over the reigns at point guard to Johnson from day one.

The 5' 10'', 165 pound senior, possesses many of the same skills Lewis Jackson stepped on campus with less than four years ago. Johnson's size, frame, ball-handling, vision, passing and quickness are all strikingly similar to the Purdue senior.

Johnson, who plays for number one ranked North Central in class 5A, hasn't always been the highly thought of prospect he is today. At the start of his junior season Johnson wasn't even ranked in the top 150 by Rivals.com for his class. It wasn't until his junior year that he exploded onto the scene.

Smith-Rivera will play for Georgetown next season
As a junior at North Central, Johnson averaged around 14 points and 5 assists. With blue-chipper D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, a five-star recruit by Rivals.com and ranked 22nd in his class, on that team among others, Johnson was primarily a distributor.

Smith-Rivera ended up transferring to the prestigious Oak Hill Academy in Virginia for his senior season, leaving the team for Johnson to lead.

As the leader of the number one ranked team this season and some lost production with Rivera gone, Johnson has assumed a bigger scoring role. Currently ranked a four-star by Rivals.com and 91st in his class, the point guard is averaging around 24 points and 5 assists as a senior.

The lefty guard has recently been quoted as saying he has been working on defense and shooting as he moves closer to playing for the Boilers.

One and probably the only knock on current point guard Lewis Jackson coming out of high school and on into his first two seasons at Purdue, was his shooting.  He has worked on his shot to where he is at least a threat on the perimeter now, but before that defenses would just sag off him and dare him to shoot.

Johnson can shoot the three
It looks like, and it's hard to tell if it will translate to the college level, this will not be a problem for Johnson. Although he demonstrates an unorthodox release, Johnson can knock down the three with regularity. Just a week ago Johnson hit seven three pointers in a North Central win.

Purdue fans are hesitant though because his brother, Terone, was also a considered a good shooter and scorer in high school as well. Terone, who is thirteen games into his sophomore year at Purdue, has consistently struggled with his shot as a Boilermaker. His form and release have been something of great debate by Purdue fans.

What can't be debated is Johnson's quickness and vision. Johnson might not be quite as fast as Jackson, but his quickness will get him by his defender in most cases. He has a great knack of where his teammates are on the floor and with some good big men and great scorers coming in the next few classes, Johnson should excel for Purdue at making everyone around him better. 

In order to get minutes at Purdue, you have to demonstrate the same amount of effort and concentration on the defensive end as you do on the offensive end.  Part of the reason Johnson will likely get more minutes next year than any other freshman, besides the need at point guard, will be because he is a great defender.

It's hard to throw a freshman into the fold from day one and expect him to produce, but with Lewis Jackson leaving that is exactly what Purdue needs.

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