Nick Johnson was the consummate college shooting guard. He did everything a shooting guard was supposed to do and more: scoring, defense, facilitation, and he gave the viewers some crazy displays of athleticism on both sides of the ball. In terms of what you want from a shooting guard, you couldn’t have asked much more from Johnson.
Now that’s he’s gone, there’s big shoes to fill if the Wildcats want to continue having top notch play at the shooting guard position.
Luckily this is Arizona, where Sean Miller has a full clip for every one he just fired off.
The first bullet in the chamber is Stanley Johnson. If you read PGU, or you know, the internet, you should’ve heard of this guy by now. If you haven’t, consider this your baptism. Johnson enters Arizona as one of the most talented recruits in Arizona history, and he will step right into Nick Johnson’s role as starting shooting guard from day one. If I had to characterize him in 15 words, Stanley Johnson could be described as: physical beast with all-around, inside-out game soon to be featured in the NBA.
He’s good enough to be Arizona’s best player next year. If that straightened your ears, it should. Johnson figures to be one of the country’s special freshman talents in a very top heavy 2014 class. That’s no insult to Arizona’s incredibly talented returning players, Johnson is just that good.
What Johnson would provide is obvious. A tremendous physical presence at 6-6 and ~235 lbs, he will abuse guards in the paint and still has the perimeter skill to devastate away from the basket. There aren’t many teams who have a shooting guard that doesn’t look puny next to the Stanimal, who could easily pass for an NFL tight end.
Playing alongside a cognizant, aware point guard like TJ McConnell is maybe the best thing possible for Johnson. His size and strength can be utilized in various ways off the ball, and McConnell is the breed of point guard that always recognizes when to take advantage of the mismatches Johnson would inevitably cause.
The one question about Johnson, which may ultimately limit his playing time at the shooting guard spot, is his ability to stretch the floor with the three point shot. If he proves to be a consistent long distance threat, Johnson will log heavy minutes from day one and likely won’t relinquish much time to Arizona’s reserves. But if he can’t be a reliable three point shooter, the door is wide open for someone else to play significant minutes.
Another player who could be a factor at the shooting guard position is Kadeem Allen, last year’s junior college player of the year. Unlike Johnson, Allen has received virtually no press and most people would be hard pressed to tell you anything more about him. But at PGU we scout the entire country and we’ve gotten to know Allen’s game well.
A rim attacking guard, Allen is a potent scorer creating off the dribble and free lancing. He has a toughness that he uses to score at the rim against bigger defenders and he’s an ignitable scorer prone to offensive outbursts.
Allen’s defensive ability will be the first area of improvement, as well as his adjustment to the speed and physicality of Division-I basketball. But his confidence and scoring ability should provide valuable depth at the shooting guard spot as the season goes on.
If you’re a Gabe York fan, you’re probably a little ticked off right now. As a junior, and probably Arizona’s best shooter, York is the team’s Rodney Dangerfield. No respect.
After two seasons of playing the reserve role and waiting for his opportunity, it seems like York still has a mountain to climb. When you think about it objectively, it’s really not his fault. On a program like Arizona, the competition for minutes is fierce and the endless cycle of recruiting is even fiercer. Good players can come to this program and get buried on the bench. It happens at plenty of other programs too.
But none of that should matter if York can elevate his game and demand playing time with his production. As an upperclassman, York should have the confidence and killer instinct to force Miller into playing him heavy minutes.
York can no longer be tentative and afraid to make mistakes — he has to be the aggressive, athletic shooting guard we know he is.
Despite York’s hurdles so far, his outside shooting has remained a weapon. But in order to become the type of player Arizona needs at the shooting guard, he will need to become more than just a three point specialist.
Between Johnson, Allen, and York, Arizona has plenty of talent to put at the shooting guard position. However, the rotation still remains unclear as each player has distinct question marks that will need to be answered in practice.
If you like the picture of Stanley Johnson above, visit CassyAthena.com