Geron Johnson, SR, G
Weight: 197 pounds
Birth Date: August 9, 1992
Hometown: Dayton, Ohio
Last Season Stats: 10.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 3.5 APG and 1.8 SPG
When guard Geron Johnson was being recruited before the 2012-13 season, he was considered by many to be the top JUCO recruit in the country. The problem was that he had a history of trouble, which made many schools back off from him.
Memphis Tigers head coach Josh Pastner took a chance on him, laying out strict ground rules. If he violated any of them, Johnson would be back in Dayton. He did more than just adhere to Pastner’s rules — he went above and beyond to be an outstanding member of the community. His life turnaround off the court was a feel-good story, but he played like a man on a mission last season on the court and lived up to his billing.
Johnson has a well-rounded game and contributed in numerous ways. He was fourth on the team in scoring, second in steals, second in assists and third in rebounds. Not to mention, he was the Tigers’ best defensive player. This year as a senior, Johnson will be counted upon to play a huge role for Memphis in its first season in the AAC.
Just like his fellow senior guards Chris Crawford, Michael Dixon and Joe Jackson, Johnson can beat opponents in a number of ways. Along with Jackson, he is the fastest player on the team. He is a great ball-handler and uses his speed to often fly past defenders. Johnson is perhaps the best of the guards when it comes to finishing around. It’s very close between him and Jackson, both of whom get into the paint regularly.
He only shot 65 free throws though, so he could stand to get better at drawing contact to get to the line.
One of his best shots is the mid-range jumper. Johnson loves to act like he’s going to drive and make the defender back up, only to cross over a step back and pull up from 15 to 17 feet out. He is also a respectable 3-point shooter, connecting on 35 percent of his attempts. There’s definitely room for improvement, but when it mattered most, Johnson made big-time shots from downtown.
The senior averaged 3.5 assists per game and was a big part of the Memphis ranking fifth in the country in APG with 16.8. Much like Jackson, Johnson used his ability to get into the lane to not only score high-percentage baskets, but to also kick the ball out to open teammates once the defense collapsed in.
A high number of his assists also came on fast breaks. Once he had the ball on the break, he made crisp, clean passes teammates running on either side of the court. Many times though, his speed allowed him to get all the way to the rim.
What is really impressive about his game is his rebounding and defense. Johnson is one of the best rebounding guards in the country. If you ever played basketball growing up, one phrase coaches beat to a pulp was to follow your shot. That’s also big with Pastner, but even more important to him in his up-and-down style is guard rebounding. Johnson consistently followed his shot and led all the guards on the team with 4.5 RPG.
There were too many times to count last season when he grabbed a board and immediately pushed the ball down the floor for easy points. He also created those with his defense, something that will make him a very intriguing NBA prospect.
Once again, his speed comes into play. It allows him to play up on his man and recover if he gets beat. He tied with Jackson for the team’s leader in SPG at 1.8. If you haven’t really watched Johnson on defense, take a game to look closely and analyze what he does. His eyes are always fixated on the ball and he has a hand following it at all times.
Johnson is extremely talented and has only scratched the surface of his potential. With an offseason to continue to work on his game, he’s primed for a big senior year. He has great instincts and could very possibly be the top NBA prospect for the Tigers. Keep an eye on this guy because he’s destined for great things.