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April 14, 2014

Nick Johnson: NBA pros and cons



Nick Johnson's junior season for the Arizona Wildcats was something to marvel at. He won the Pac-12 Conference player of the year, and he was voted to a handful of All-America teams.

In an interview last week with ESPNLA 710, the shooting guard told Mark Willard that he was unsure of his future.

"The season just ended a few weeks ago," Johnson said. "I'm still trying to get over that. I'm talking to my family, my support system and coach (Sean) Miller. He's been through it a few times with some guys and I'm just talking to him and trying to get the right information."

Johnson was Arizona's most potent scorer. When the offense hit a dry spell - more times than not - the explosive off-guard was called on to score a clutch bucket. His consistency throughout the season kept his Wildcats afloat after they lost Brandon Ashley to a season-ending foot injury.

The rumor mill is churning out content about Arizona's best players. A source told Yahoo Sports late Sunday evening that Aaron Gordon will enter his name in the 2014 NBA draft later this week, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is strongly considering entering the draft. But Johnson's future plans remain more of a mystery.

Fans want him to return - his presence makes Sean Miller's team extremely formidable. A potential lineup of T.J. McConnell, Nick Johnson, Stanley Johnson, Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski would have the Wildcats as favorites to make it to the Final Four.

If Nick Johnson stays, he runs the risk of hurting his current draft stock; but on the other end of the spectrum, his stock is not going to get much higher than it is now. Various mock drafts have him projected anywhere from a late first-round to mid second-round pick. Seeing that he probably will not have more than an average NBA career, it is not ludicrous to think that he could return for his final season to compete for a national championship and make a run for the Naismith Award.

Here is a look at Nick Johnson as a player:

NBA position: SG
Height: 6-2
Weight: 198 pounds

Strengths:
Athletic ability
Toughness
Defensive ability

Weaknesses:
Size
Length
Strength
Settles for bad shots

Analysis:

Nick Johnson's college career has been a spectacular one so far. If he decides for forego his senior season, he would have cemented his name as one of the better players in Arizona's history. His leadership and tireless motor make up for his lack of size and strength.

At the moment, it is hard to find an accurate NBA comparison. Undersized off-guards rarely find their niche on the professional level.

Johnson's skill set - from an offensive standpoint - could work on the next level. His size provides limitations. Trying to score against some of the elite shooting guards could prove problematic since he has a below-average wingspan, and does not possess a noteworthy amount of strength.

If he were able to make a name for himself in the NBA, it would be on the defensive side of the floor. Johnson has a bulldog mentality, his motor is top-notch and he is a tenacious defender. He is athletic enough to defend both guard positions.

Johnson has until April 27 to make an official decision; keep in mind that he would not be able to withdraw his name. If he wants the option to change his mind he needs to make an announcement before Tuesday, but given the extremely short window, this seems unlikely.

The Pac-12 player of the year has a tough decision to make. It makes sense for a college player of his magnitude to return for his senior season and make a run to the Final Four. There would be nothing sweeter than to finish off an amazing college career with a national championship.

Under Miller's tutelage, Johnson has almost maximized his potential. It would benefit Arizona and himself if he played out his final season for the Wildcats.

UPDATE: According to an ESPN report Monday morning, Johnson will likely enter the draft with Gordon.

Joseph DuruakuJoseph Duruaku
GOAZCATS.com Staff Writer

Email Joseph



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