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Where Will Stanley Johnson Fit In?

July 24th, 2014 News 9 Comments

stan slide
Ivy Hunt-Ashram

Let me tell you what kind of beast Stanley Johnson is. A couple weeks ago at the LeBron James Skills Academy he measured in at 235 pounds, standing 6-7.5 in sneakers. Of all the college players there, including juniors and seniors, only one player weighed more: 6-10 LSU sophomore Jarell Martin, 242 pounds.

And it’s not baby fat. Johnson has a rock solid physique, a testament to good genetics and a strong work ethic. As a senior in high school, he was physically ready to compete at the NBA level. It’s a shocking realization that he hasn’t even started a college strength and conditioning program yet.

But that’s old news, people were talking about Johnson’s physically advanced frame four years ago. It’s his skill level as a perimeter player that has developed rapidly over his high school career. He now has the body of a power forward, with the skillset of a wing player.

There aren’t many players like that at the college level, and that’s why the title of this article is a bit misleading. Stanley Johnson won’t need to “fit in” to the team, rather the team will be fitted to him. In the same way that Aaron Gordon’s defense quickly shaped the Wildcats’ identity last year, Johnson’s offensive game and physicality will shape their identity in the coming season.

That doesn’t mean he will lead Arizona in scoring, or even be the focal point of the offense. Sean Miller’s system doesn’t allow for star-centric play (the Derrick Williams year was an aberration, not the norm), and the Wildcats are simply too stacked with top flight players for any of them to put up superlative numbers. But the toughness and strength that Johnson brings to the court will eventually become the backbone of the team.

Johnson will also play a big part in stretching the floor next season, something that haunted the Cats at times last year. With Arizona’s size advantage against most teams, opponents will clog the paint if they aren’t a consistent threat from three point range. This is where Johnson could step in immediately and make a big impact. If Johnson shows that he can hit from outside, Arizona’s offense will come much easier.

Johnson has the compact, quick shooting motion that scouts look for in a perimeter shooter. He is also a confident shooter that has a high release point, two major positives working for him. While it remains to be seen how Johnson’s shooting will translate to the college game, he has the tools to be a knock down shooter. At 6-7.5, that’s a deadly weapon.

With Gordon and Nick Johnson going to the NBA, Arizona lost a big chunk of it’s trips to the free throw line. Despite his struggles shooting from the charity stripe, Gordon drew fouls at an incredible rate and helped put opposing teams in foul trouble.

Stanley Johnson’s physicality and skill with the ball make him a prime candidate to punish teams from the free throw line. There are simply not that many players who have the speed to stay with Johnson on the perimeter and the size and strength to handle him in the paint. As a result, look for Johnson to attack mismatches often and exploit them for free points.

The wing tandem he forms with Hollis-Jefferson will be formidable. Both are strong, quick with the ball, and have a nose for getting to the rim. That’s going to result in a lot of foul trouble for defenders. I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear people drop the nickname “slash brothers” at some point.

But with Hollis-Jefferson still honing his perimeter game and TJ McConnell looking to facilitate first, Johnson could be a big part of the Wildcat’s overall offensive attack. It’s within reason to expect a sort of two-headed offensive monster between Johnson and Brandon Ashley, who form an incredibly dynamic inside-out combo with either player capable of occupying either spot. The two-man game that could develop between Johnson and Ashley is a tantalizing prospect, and could make up the majority of Arizona’s offense next year.

You might be thinking that this article seems like an insult to Gabe York. It’s not. York is a fine player, who as a junior should still be able to have a meaningful role off the bench. But the best players play, and Johnson is the better player. Of course, if Johnson struggles to hit the perimeter shot or hits the proverbial freshman wall, York’s sharp shooting slots naturally into the starting lineup just as it did last year after Ashley’s injury.

But if I had to guess, I’d bet that Johnson earns a starting role from day one and hits the ground running.

So where will Johnson fit in? He’ll be so deeply ingrained in the DNA of the team that you’ll wonder how they ever played without him. He’s that good. We are firmly entrenched in the Impact Freshman Era of college basketball, and Johnson is the latest edition to come through Arizona. Enjoy it while it lasts.

To see more pictures of Stanley Johnson like the ones above, visit

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9 Responses to “Where Will Stanley Johnson Fit In?”

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  1. titan4wildcats

    July 24, 2014

    Great article Ivy Hunt-Ashram. I hear you ZonaBoy! The more I hear about what could happen…the more I can’t wait to see it.

  2. mvpreed2

    July 25, 2014

    Stanley is going to add things to our lineup at the SG position that we have yet to have since Miller arrived to Arizona.
    Height,strength,athleticism and versatility all in a 6’7 235lbs package?
    I want to say that there isn’t going to be much of a weakness in our starting five this season and that most teams are going to get blind-sided by how loaded we are.

    I can only wait to see if our starting five lives up to my expectations of how dangerous we could be.
    If we do live up to them then I can say we are going to have a season similar to the one we had last year minus the season-ending injury which would put us in the hunt as favorites to reach the Final Four again this season.

    I hope I am right..

  3. Papadeuce

    July 25, 2014

    I absolutely cannot wait to see Stan in a cats uniform. We all know what we’re getting but the nation is gonna be mind blown

  4. Jeff

    July 25, 2014

    It’s amazing how quick Stanley is at 235 lbs. Only around three more months until we get to see him in action.

  5. yo yo ma

    July 25, 2014

    1st AZ player that comes to mind when thinkin SJ? A bigger, stronger Chris Mills

  6. lsg_da_apache

    July 25, 2014

    Been watching Stanley online for years now. I can not wait to see him in a ‘Cats jersey in person this year. One great Johnson has left, now the next great Johnson is here! BTFD!

  7. steve green

    July 25, 2014

    STAN THE MAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. nightwave

    July 26, 2014

    Stanley Johnson: the persona, the skill set, the physicality, and the diversity. This quick skilled guard, with the muscular frame, weight, and height that can post up in the paint, is an anomaly and frankly a phenomenon that will thrive in the college game. He is an unstoppable force, fast and powerful, like a freight train. In high school some opposing coaches called him a nightmare to game plan against. With the Pac Twelve so unacquainted with a juggernaut like Stanley we should call him “Night Train”, as he will be bringing it every night in an offence that is the best in the college game, with at least four future pros. “Night Train” won’t be the focal point of our game plan, so he will be even more of a wrecking ball for Arizona. It wouldn’t take much to adapt the lyrics of the song, “Night Train” to what Stanley brings to Arizona. “Get on board…!” Welcome to Tucson, “Night Train”.

  9. Josh

    July 31, 2014

    This is first time, that I can remember, Zona has had a prototypical SG…actually playing SG. 6’7″ 235…WOW. I hate to say it, but that’s bigger than Kobe Bryant. Kid has a BRIGHT future ahead of him…and I’m glad to see him have a pit stop in Tucson on his way to the NBA!

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