With Indiana’s offseason roster adjustments behind us, we carry again our annual custom of taking a better take a look at the gamers anticipated to return to this system.
Subsequent up is level guard Xavier Johnson, who’s coaching for his fifth 12 months of faculty basketball and second with IU.
THE 2021-22 NUMBERS
After transferring to IU from Pittsburgh, Johnson began all 34 video games he performed in in the course of the 2021-22 season.
The Virginia product completed second on the crew averaging 12.1 factors, and led the crew in assists (172, 5.1 per sport) and steals (40, 1.2 per sport). He was additionally second on the crew in 3-point taking pictures (38.3%), shot 78.2% from the road, and was second in free throws made with 115.
The 6-foot-3 Johnson was named honorable point out All-Large Ten by the media. His help complete was the fifth most in a season in program historical past, and his season per sport common the eighth greatest ever.
WHAT WENT WELL
Down the stretch Johnson was the very best level guard within the Large Ten, making main strides and exhibiting that he was coachable within the course of.
He averaged 14.2 factors, 5.9 assists and shot 41.4 p.c from lengthy distance within the remaining 17 video games of the season, and he was even higher than these numbers within the final 5 of the common season and the Large Ten Event. Indiana’s late season push to the NCAA Event merely would not occur with out his high-level end.
Johnson introduced quite a lot of long-missing qualities to the purpose guard place together with elite quickness and a capability to complete on the rim, he bought to the road and made free throws, and Johnson was an excellent defender on the prime of the protection. He additionally had the very best turnover price of his profession, almost three proportion factors higher than any of his first three seasons.
Whereas his shot mechanics are unconventional, Johnson was precisely the form of shooter IU wanted from the purpose guard place down the stretch, making open pictures when the protection collapsed. And as a fringe shooter he realized to not drive issues over the course of the 12 months.
OFFSEASON DEVELOPMENTAL NEEDS
1. Maintain your feelings in test. The Xavier Johnson expertise is sort of a thrill journey you could’t get off. One minute it’s exhilarating, the subsequent horrifying, and also you by no means know what’s coming across the subsequent flip. In some respects, it’s that very nature that makes Johnson so efficient. However late within the season Mike Woodson stated “I am attempting to get him to play non-reckless,” and it was when Johnson dialed issues again only a hair and located his teammates extra, that all the things began clicking.
After all there was extra with Johnson than simply on the court docket. His offseason incident behind the wheel is effectively documented, he was one of many suspended “Northwestern 5,” and Johnson appears to search out his means into heated moments on the court docket, like late sport at Ohio State and at house towards Rutgers.
It is all a really nice line with Johnson, however he’ll be doing his crew and his skilled future a giant favor if he can keep out of the unfavorable highlight.
3. Scoring on the transfer, away from the basket. Johnson stunned on the upside together with his 38.3 p.c conversion price from deep, greater than three proportion factors higher than his earlier career-best season. However Johnson solely made 14 3-pointers all season that weren’t assisted, and he shot simply 28 p.c on 2-pointers away from the rim. Mixed in these two figures is a participant who struggled to attain off the bounce in case you might preserve him away from the rim (the place he made 54 p.c of his pictures). Wisconsin game-planned Johnson higher than anybody, forcing him right into a 2-of-17 taking pictures from the mid-range in two video games. He struggled towards Illinois in the identical means.
The hope is way of that is moot with Johnson’s enchancment over the season. However little question groups will look to run Johnson off of 3-point catch-and-shoot alternatives whereas maintaining him away from the rim. Johnson has NBA-level features to each his sport and athletic capability, however that is clearly one space that may maintain him again if he would not develop.
2. Keep out of foul bother. In 9 video games final 12 months Johnson had 4 or extra fouls. He fouled out twice and spent a number of first halves sitting subsequent to Woodson with two early fouls. That is the place we plug within the cliché “the very best capability is availability.” Johnson’s aggressive fashion results in extra fouls, and also you would not need to fully eradicate that side of his sport. However there are strategies to keep away from fouls, and it was sometimes Johnson’s overly-active palms that bought him in bother.
WHAT SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE IN 2022-23
Let’s face it, late season Xavier Johnson is now the usual. If he performs like he did down the stretch in 2021-22, Johnson might be first or second crew All-Large Ten, and he’ll probably propel a few his teammates to some degree of All-Large Ten stature as effectively. That is the entire key with Johnson, enjoying at a excessive degree whereas elevating the sport of his teammates alongside the way in which.
If Johnson can maintain final 12 months’s manufacturing over his remaining 17 video games whereas staying out of bother each on and off the court docket, his remaining season of faculty basketball might be a significant success.
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