Scouting Notes from the ESPNHS All-American Championship: Ronnie Johnson

By Drew Wooden

Purdue signee Ronnie Johnson played in the ESPN High School All-American Championship game in New Orleans on April 1st. Johnson played for the North squad who narrowly fell to the South in the final seconds 86-85. For a full roster of the North and South teams, see here (link).

There were lots of future Big Ten faces for the North team, including Marc Loving (Ohio State junior verbal), Mike Gesell (Iowa signee), Adam Woodbury (Iowa signee), Kenny Kaminski (Michigan State signee), Hanner Perea (Indiana signee), Sam Dekker (Wisconsin signee) and Jeremy Hollowell (Indiana signee). Loving, Kaminski, and the two future Hawkeyes all started while Ronnie Johnson and the others came off the bench.

***Disclaimer: keep in mind that these scouting notes were made in the context of an All-Star game, where it’s disorganized and more like a pick-up game than an actual college game. If you want a scouting report of Ronnie Johnson from his high school season, see my December 9, 2011 story (link). ***

Ronnie Johnson (#3 in dark blue):

  • Johnson did not enter the game until 3:57. The players were rotated about every four minutes.
  • Ronnie’s stats were 3 points (1-4 shooting), 3 assists, 2 rebounds, and 1 turnover.
  • On defense, Johnson guarded Javan Felix (Texas signee) and Braxton Ogbueze (Florida signee). Neither Felix or Ogbueze are particularly big point guards, so Johnson wasn’t really outmatched size-wise like he may be at times at the next level.
  • In the first quarter, Ogbueze drove on Johnson and then pushed off with his forearm before hitting a jumpshot. Johnson was called for the foul. He’ll have to get used to the physical play at the next level. Even though he doesn’t have a lot of size, he is pretty muscular. He’ll have to learn to adapt to that kind of physical contact so that his man won’t be able to force him into a foul or drive through him for an easy shot.
  • During the first quarter, Ronnie drove to his left (his dominant hand) and drew a foul. He hit 1-2 free throws and has a nice looking stroke.
  • In the second quarter, Johnson penetrated through the defense and made a nifty finger roll layup. If you watch his high school highlights (linked), he is great at making these kinds of plays.
  • Also, in the second quarter, he led a fast break and at the last second pitched it to a streaking Jeremy Hollowell for an easy dunk.
  • When Johnson gets a rebound, he’s very quick at getting the ball up the floor. It’s clear that he has great speed, which will be necessary to replace Lewis Jackson. I don’t think he has Jackson’s same foot speed, but he will probably be at least as fast as any other guard on Purdue’s roster next year.
  • Johnson would have had another assist in the second quarter had Hollowell not missed a dunk (leave it to an IU signee, of course [all in jest]).
  • In the third quarter, Johnson’s 3 rimmed out. It was in-and-out, but was a good looking shot. He took two 3-pointers during the game and missed both. However, he hit 3 pointers at over 40% this last high school season. At the next level, Johnson should be a perimeter weapon when he’s open. I’m not sure if he’ll be able to shoot with a hand in his face especially at his size, but the defenders should at least respect his outside shot.
  • Ronnie Johnson has a habit of overpenetrating that he may have to correct at the next level. There are times where he gets deep into the defense but then is not able to get off a shot amongst the trees. He’s very good at finding an open man in these situations, but this could be a source of his turnovers early in his career.
  • In the 4th quarter, Javan Felix was able to hit a floater over him. On the next possession, he shot his own floater over Felix. He barely missed his shot and it’s clear that he has a nice floater in his offensive arsenal.
  • Also, in the fourth quarter, he was forced into a turnover when he was double teamed. He tried to get the ball into the hands of his teammates, but it was intercepted.
  • Following the 4th quarter turnover, he made a steal at halfcourt and fed the ball to Hollowell who served it up to Sam Dekker. This was an example of his quick hands and his ability to create fast points from a turnover.
Projection: Overall, Johnson looks the part. He should be able to help Purdue immediately at their vacant point guard position now that Lewis Jackson will graduate. He will have to adapt to the faster, more physical Big Ten, but he has great court vision and the kind of good decisionmaking that every high major coach covets. He has a chance of starting next year, but even if he does not, he figures to play a major role in Purdue’s 2012-2013 team.

Miscellaneous notes, primarily on future Big Ten players:

  • Sam Dekker really raised some eyebrows. I’ve been high on this guy for a while. I used to think he was the next Robbie Hummel. Now I’m thinking he’s a little more than that. He has bounce in his game that reminds me of Indiana’s Will Sheehey. The announcers raved about his work ethic and desire to improve. Along with that, he has great intangibles like Hummel, including the ability to make clutch plays. For example, he drained a last second 3 in the Wisconsin state championship to give his high school its first ever state title (see video link). You can also compare him to former Butler player Gordon Hayward.
  • Glenn Robinson Jr. was the player of the game. He’s headed to Michigan. He had a handful of dunks, some of which were set up by Iowa’s future point man Mike Gesell. Brace yourselves for the question that will undoubtedly be asked hundreds of times next year: so why is Big Dog’s kid not playing for Purdue? He’ll no doubt be a force in the Big Ten. He doesn’t have the defense that Gary Harris has, but his offensive game is similar. He’s about 6-6 and can get to the rim with ease. His leaping ability lets him finish at a high rate. He should be an instant impact player for John Beilein’s program.
  • Speaking of Gesell, he’s a really heady point guard. He reminds me of North Carolina State signee Tyler Lewis (who played for Oak Hill with AJ Hammons) because he doesn’t really look like a D-1 player, but he can shoot it and his basketball IQ always puts him in a position to make a play or stay with his man on defense.
  • Adam Woodbury: he should be a beast for the Hawkeyes. A near 7 footer with great instincts will help the Hawkeyes protect the rim and have an offense in the paint. That will help the Hawkeyes compete with the other dominant big men that will be in the Big Ten, including Zeller, McGary, Adreian Payne, and possibly Jared Sullinger (pending his draft decision).
  • Junior verbal Marc Loving can really shoot the ball. He’ll help Thad Matta’s Buckeyes in two years.
  • Hanner Perea (IU signee) racked up 5 fouls by the early 3rd quarter. He finished with at least 6 fouls. As expected, he was great in transition and when no one boxed him out, he had some easy put-backs. He could have some opportunities on offense next year when Zeller is double-teamed.
  • Indiana’s Jeremy Hollowell had a good game. He has a very high ceiling because he’s very skilled and a legit 6-7. He should be a good swingman that can play the 3 or 4. As good of a 3-point shooter that he is, he still needs to attack the basket because he has good size to finish over smaller defenders.
  • I was also impressed by Notre Dame signee Cameron Biedscheid. He can really shoot the ball. He averaged over 30 points per game in high school and Purdue will have to keep their eyes on him next year when they play the Fighting Irish at Conseco Fieldhouse.
  • For the south team, a familiar guy for Matt Painter and Purdue fans was playing: Derek Willis. He is now a Kentucky verbal. As just a junior, it’s pretty clear that Willis needs to work on his body. He’s very lean and his frame is frail in comparison to some of the more well-developed top 100 recruits. That said, his skill level at 6-9 means he’s likely a future pro.

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