Thanks to my trusty DVR, I was able to watch Ronnie Johnson and his North Central team take on Carmel on Friday night. It was televised on WHMB in Indianapolis (channel 40 for me). Carmel upset the top ranked Panthers 62-60 at home.
- Ronnie Johnson has outstanding court vision, especially in transition. This was evident on Johnson’s first pass of the game where he fired a bounce pass about 25 feet ahead to Darius Latham. Unfortunately, the players that Johnson passed to did not finish a lot of the layups he helped set-up with his pass. Otherwise, Johnson would have had at least 5 assists.
- Ronnie nailed a nice floater on his drive to the basket in the first half. On this shot, he twisted his body mid-air and from about 6-8 feet away, he nailed a one-handed floater through contact. He drew a foul on this play and sank the free throw.
- Although he was only a 56% free throw shooter coming into Friday’s game, he hit four of five free throws. This is something he will look to improve upon before he starts his career at Purdue.
- Johnson is listed at 6 feet tall and while I’m not sure whether he’s more like 5-10 or 5-11, he does have a strong build to him. His upper body strength looks good and his physical strength shouldn’t hold him back too much (if at all) when he transitions to Big Ten basketball.
- Johnson hit two threes from VERY far past the three point line on Friday night. This showed his very excellent range and that he has the confidence to stroke it from deep.
- He has quick hands which led to a couple of steals last night. Generally, he doesn’t play very physical defense (which is by design because it would hurt NC too much if he got into foul trouble). But he did double team the ball a few times and was able to strip the basketball from a Carmel guard a couple of times.
- Johnson finished with 23 points. So far, he’s averaging about 24 points and 6 assists per game this year.
Areas for Improvement:
- Ronnie took some quick shots on Friday night when he should have probably been a bit more patient. North Central coach Doug Mitchell benched him for a couple of minutes after one of his quick threes. At Purdue, he will learn to work the ball around so that his team finds a better shot. Keep in mind, though, that in high school he is the guy on his team. North Central requires him to take those kinds of shots.
- Overall, Johnson shot 3 of 10 from three-point shots (by my count). This is not a great percentage, but I don’t think it’s reflective of his usual three point percentage. It may have just been an off night for him.
- Johnson’s defense is a work in progress. I know he’s capable of so much more and that the style he played last night was to avoid fouls. His man drove by him a few times last night and I’m sure he was the quickest guy on the floor Friday night. It seems like he gives a lot of leeway for his man to drive with his opposite hand. He won’t be able to do this at Purdue next year since college level players can move to their right and left almost equally well.
- Some that have watched Johnson have commented on the form of his shooting. It’s not a pure form, but it seems to be pretty effective. His body isn’t completely square when he shoots and his release point is a bit low. I think he will have to work on his release point so that it won’t get blocked at the next level.
- Johnson is a great passer, but he will have to watch his cross-court passes. In division one basketball, the speed of the game is so much faster that athletic players will be able to intercept some of those passes. I’m sure he’ll learn this quickly by playing with his brother, Kelsey Barlow, Anthony Johnson, and others.
It was disappointing that North Central lost last night. I still think though that North Central can win the state title if they improve their defense and they shoot a better percentage inside the paint. Players like Darius Latham, Perry Poindexter, and Patrick Ingram will all have a big part of this quest for a state championship.