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Is Stanley Johnson Ready to Start?

October 20th, 2014 News 12 Comments

Ivy Hunt-Ashram

Is anyone else beyond amped that we got a chance to see the 2014-15 Wildcats take the court over the weekend? Naturally, fans’ minds are swimming with thoughts about the coming season. But before you get ahead of yourselves, keep in mind that what we saw on Saturday was a glorified pick up game. It was a test run in front of a live audience, like a pace lap at a race. It was just to get the engines warm.

While the true makeup of the team will be revealed in practices, we still got a rough idea of what to expect. One area that remains unclear is the starting shooting guard position. While many have penciled freshman phenom Stanley Johnson into the lineup, the Red-Blue game didn’t provide any decisiveness either way.

Before we go on, you have to keep in mind that the question is not “Will Stanley Johnson start?” He will probably start because his overall talent and skillset gives the team the best chance to win, but is he ready to step into that role from day one?

Arizona has been spoiled by having impact freshman hit the ground running. From Mike Bibby winning a National Championship in his first year, all the way to recent freshman stars like Jerryd Bayless, Derrick Williams, and Aaron Gordon, the Wildcats have been blessed to get major production out of their newcomers.

But it would be silly to think that’s the norm. Not every freshman can come in and lead a team like Bibby, score like Bayless, or gel defensively like Gordon. It’s an almost impossible request to ask a freshman, but time and time again the Wildcats have been lucky to roster players who stepped up to the call.

So we’ve come to expect it. I can already imagine the type of message board blather we’ll have to go through if Johnson struggles out of the gate.

What we saw in the Red-Blue game should give us confidence about Johnson’s chances of being an impact player from day one, but there were still questions. We saw his strength and tenacity around the rim, but we also saw some questionable decision making. We saw him explode in transition, but we also saw him hoist a few ill advised attempts.

He looked like a freshman. A very physically gifted freshman, but a freshman nonetheless.

It’s so unfair to have the expectations we have for him. He hasn’t played a single minute at the college level, he just started learning the college game, and we’re already expecting him to carry the torch without missing a beat.

So is Johnson ready to start? It might not matter if Gabe York and Kadeem Allen don’t show more on the court. He’ll have to.

What matters is giving him the time to adjust and develop, and to understand that there could be some growing pains along the way.

I’d like to see a committee approach to the shooting guard position in which Johnson, York, and Allen all play meaningful roles. You might not think there’s enough minutes there, but considering that Johnson can slide to the small forward and even power forward, it can work.

I don’t question Johnson’s talent or winning background. I’m just weary of placing too much burden on the shoulders of an inexperienced player.

Johnson could very well be Arizona’s best player this year, and he has a pretty good chance of being the first Wildcat selected in next year’s NBA Draft.

But he needs time to become that player. Arizona has the talent to make that transition smooth, which could pay major dividends later on in the season.

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12 Responses to “Is Stanley Johnson Ready to Start?”

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  1. Doug Brodess

    October 21, 2014

    I am all for minimizing over-the-top hype and runaway expectations for players like Johnson. But, I honestly don’t see how the young gun from Mater Dei isn’t in the starting lineup from Day 1. Will he make freshman mistakes? Yes, he will. But he will also do things that York or Allen or any other player on the Wildcats crazy-talented roster can’t do.

  2. Jeff

    October 21, 2014

    I don’t know how well Stanley can defend quick guards or make jump shots, but he has the body, confidence, and a slew of other talents that make him ready to start for Arizona. No player is perfect, but Stanley is more than ready.

  3. Bengcord3

    October 21, 2014

    That’s one hell of a well written article Ivy. Great points, and I certainly agree with the patience approach when it comes to any true frosh.

    Bear dow, this season is gonna be a special one!

  4. Thunderlizard

    October 21, 2014

    “the Red-Blue game didn’t provide any decisiveness either way.”

    Are you sure? Stanley led all scorers, was unstoppable driving to the hoop, only had 1 turnover, and even knocked down a 3. Kadeem was not impressive and Gabe York did nothing to justify the hype he has been getting. Stanley didn’t just look ready to start, he looked ready to dominate. UNLEASH THE STANIMAL!

  5. ChiliDogg

    October 21, 2014

    Nice article on Stanley. Don’t forget about Pitts in the mix for SG as well. I don’t see Pitts starting this year, but he may see more minutes than KA. Pitts may even earn some SF minutes too.

  6. Papadeuce

    October 21, 2014

    I think it’s only a matter of time before Stanley jumps into the starting rotation. Whether he’s starting or not, it’s great to have such a talent on the team that’s most likely going to see 25+ minutes a game.

  7. admin

    October 21, 2014

    Thunderlizard, the Red-Blue was a pickup game at half speed. You can’t tell much about Stanley from that.

  8. nightwave

    October 21, 2014

    How can you say we are lucky to have him? Miller has done an excellent job recruiting him. Stanley had his choice of the other colleges to pick from. He saw our 8 week stretch at being number one in the rankings last year and made his choice. He also fits into the line up perfectly, especially along side Jefferson. Where else is he going to get a PG like TJ to feed him the ball? Are we blessed? Definitely. Lucky? We made our own luck.

  9. Buzzard

    October 21, 2014

    Great write up.

    “Arizona has been spoiled by having impact freshman hit the ground running. From Mike Bibby…”
    You gotta go back earlier than Bibby! lol

  10. Orion

    October 21, 2014

    Sung to the tune of “Monster Mash”, a Halloween tribute that begins focusing on Stanley

    In my Arizona lab late one night
    My eyes beheld an eerie sight
    My shooting guard, from his slab did arise
    And suddenly to my surprise

    He did the dunk, he did the Monster Dunk
    The Monster Dunk, along with threes that he sunk
    Defenders shrunk, at his jive jukin’ junk
    Through double teams, he did slink and he slunk

    (The rest of the song, a Halloween tribute to the team, available upon request)

  11. admin

    October 22, 2014

    Im requesting it Orion

  12. Orion

    October 23, 2014

    As requested…the rest of MONSTER DUNK

    From my laboratory in Castle McKale
    To the weight room, with Zeus hulked on a scale
    Ghouls York and Pitts came from their humble abodes
    to get a jolt from my electrodes.

    The forwards were having fun, slash n’ shoot
    The party had just begun, slash n’ shoot
    The guest list included Boris Brashley
    And the undead Hollis Jefferson

    The scene was really rockin’ with Miller’s haunted play book
    Ristic tossed in a spooky Servian sky hook
    The coffin point guard was about to arrive
    With TJ’s vocal group, “The Crypt Starting Five”

    Out of his coffin Jefferson’s groan did wail
    Seems he was troubled by just one detail
    He opened the lid and shook his fist
    As Vampire Victor tipped in the only shot that he’s missed.

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