2021 Draft Watch: Observing Keon Johnson

September 7th, 2020

By Alan Lu

I decided to take the time to watch Tennessee’s incoming 6-5 freshman swingman, Keon Johnson, who played high school basketball for The Webb School against Holly Springs on November 30th, 2019, as I was able to see this with thanks to YouTube via The Grind Session.  Johnson is a very athletic basketball player that can play multiple positions, and he is projected to be a potential lottery pick for the 2021 draft.  Here are my thoughts on how he fared, as well as how his game may translate to the NBA.

Tennessee’s incoming 6-5 freshman guard, Keon Johnson is a very athletic, versatile combo guard that could be a potential lottery pick for the 2021 NBA Draft.
Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean)

Keon Johnson is a very athletic basketball player that can make solid plays on both ends of the floor.  He really excelled at attacking the basket and he generally played a strong all-around game in his team’s win over Holly Springs.

Johnson excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He showed a knack for scoring on cuts and in transition in this game.  He was able to score on a crafty, reverse layup off of a cut once, and he also scored on a thunderous, two-handed dunk off of another backdoor cut.  He also ran in to score on an athletic tip slam after leaping up to get an offensive rebound.  Plus, he is a fleet-footed guard that can quickly take the ball to the rim in the open court, as he will use a Euro-step move to score on the break, and he also can get the extra free throw afterwards.  He also was able to score on a two-handed dunk another time, and he also would often draw fouls upon his defenders, which would enable him to get to the free throw line.

Plus, he also showed a solid ability to score off the dribble.  Johnson was able to drive left to the rim to score on a quick floater.  Also, he can stop on a dime to make pull-up jumpers from the mid-range.  However, sometimes he may take off-balanced shots around the basket, which can lead to misses.

Also, he showed an adequate ability to score in the post.  Johnson was able to draw free throws after attempting to score on a turnaround, fadeaway jumper.  However, after getting the ball on the block another time, he tried to barrel his way to the hoop, but he ended up missing on an off-balanced layup. He also struggled to knock down threes consistently from beyond the arc.  Early on though, Johnson was able to make a quick, pull-up three from way out.  However, he really struggled to make threes off the catch or dribble in this game.

Johnson also displayed solid playmaking skills.  He is an unselfish player that possesses good court vision.  He tended to throw crisp, long passes to set up scores for his teammates, and he can throw timely passes to find cutters and teammates on the break to get them the basketball.  He also excels at throwing long outlet passes, as he can get them the ball in stride.  Plus, he also excels at passing off the dribble, and he can kick balls out to shooters to get them open looks to score.  However, he was also a bit turnover prone, though.  He would sometimes handle the ball or dribble into traffic, as defenders would force a tie-up afterwards.  Another time, he dropped an entry pass to an opponent.  On a separate play when handling the basketball, he was called for a clear-out foul that led him to commit an offensive foul and a turnover on a separate possession.

In addition, Johnson did a great job of rebounding the basketball.  He would frequently leap up to get defensive rebounds, and he would often push the ball up the court or bring it up afterwards to create early offense and transition scoring opportunities for his team.

Also, Johnson played fairly solid defense in this game.  He is an active, rangy help defender that can make numerous plays on the ball to get stops for his team.  He is a very good shot blocker, especially for a player his size.  He possesses good leaping ability, timing, and instincts, and he was able to rotate to block a mid-range jumper to a teammate and also swat a shot off the glass hard to a teammate on a separate play.  Plus, he also would play passing lanes, as he would jump passes to get steals and deflections.  Plus, he also would use his length to contest shots to force misses. 

However, he had some trouble defending in the post.  On one play when defending in the post, he didn’t step up to defend or contest the shot, which led him to allow the score.  Another time, he bit on a pump fake when defending down low, as a teammate ended up rotating to commit the foul inside.  He also sometimes struggled to defend out on the perimeter.  He was called for a reach-in foul when going for a loose ball once, and he also sagged too far off his man to allow an opponent to score on a three-point shot.  On another play, he ended up getting beat off the dribble, which led him to allow a pass that set up an inside score to a different opponent.

In general, Keon Johnson is a very athletic swingman that can help his team in a number of ways, and he is a talented prospect that could project to go in the lottery in the 2021 draft.  Though he will need to improve his jump shot, he has a solid set of all-around skills, and he is a high-upside prospect that could end up being a solid player similar to former Washington Wizards’ guard, Larry Hughes in the NBA.

Other Notes:

Mississippi State’s 6-8, incoming freshman swingman Derek Fountain had a fairly good performance for Holly Springs in his team’s loss to The Webb School.  Fountain is an athletic basketball player that possesses versatile scoring skills, and he also is a good rebounder and defender when he is on the floor.

Fountain excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He would score off of cuts, put backs, and in transition, and he was able to score on a tip-in late in this game.  Plus, he also ran the floor and caught a long pass to score on a thunderous dunk on the break, and he also drove the ball up court to score on a layup.

He also flashed an adequate ability to knock down jumpers.  Fountain ran off the ball to make a corner three, and he also showed a penchant for drawing fouls upon his defenders when hoisting up threes to get to the free throw line.  However, he tended to miss on pull-up jumpers when he would take them, regardless if whether or not if they were threes or mid-range shots, and sometimes he would take rushed mid-range shots that would lead to some awkward misses.

Also, he was fairly turnover prone in this game.  For the positives, Fountain can throw good passes off the dribble, as he can make timely reads to put his teammates in position to score the basketball.  However, he also tended to commit ball-handling turnovers.  He lost the ball in mid-air after handling it up court once, as that happened after he tried unsuccessfully to draw a foul a call on a defender.  He also tended to commit charging fouls when taking the ball to the rim off the dribble, which would lead him to commit offensive fouls and turnovers. Fountain also did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was active at crashing the glass on both sides of the ball, and sometimes he would push the ball up the court or bring it up after getting defensive rebounds for his team.

Plus, he also played solid defense.  Fountain is a very active help defender that was able to get a plethora of steals and blocks to help his team on the defensive end.  He has good length, leaping ability, and timing to block shots, and he would often swat shots off of drives and direct balls to his teammates, and he also managed to alter a three-point shot to get it to a teammate another time.  Plus, he also ran in to tie up an opponent in the post to get a steal, and he also will jump passes and poke balls away to force other turnovers.  He also can apply considerable ball pressure on his man to make it tough for his opponent to dribble the basketball.  Sometimes though, he may have some lapses defensively.  He lost his man on a cut to allow a score once, and he also didn’t cut off penetration when defending a drive to allow another basket.  On a separate play, he was called for a reach-in foul when rotating to defend in the post.

Overall, Derek Fountain is an athletic, tall swingman that can score and defend when he is on the court, and he also showed the potential to develop into a plus-level shooter in the future.  He will need to continue to work on his jump shot and playmaking skills, but he could be an intriguing long-term prospect to watch down the road.

Jacksonville State’s incoming, 6-0 freshman point guard, Javonte “J.J.” Platt had his ups and downs in this game, but Platt was able to make some solid plays to help The Webb School get the win over Holly Springs.

Platt is a solid defender that plays bigger than his size.  He is a very good shot blocker, especially for a player his size, as he has good leaping ability and timing to rotate to swat shots inside.  Plus, Platt will also jump on loose balls and get his hands on passes to help his team get steals and deflections, and he also managed to successfully draw a charge on a drive.  He also would aggressively contest shots off the dribble to force misses.

He also will attack the basket to get scores around the basket.  Platt is a speedy player that would often score off cuts and in transition.  Often times, he would run the floor and catch long passes to score on layups around the basket.  Plus, he is also a fast player that would take the ball to the rim off the dribble to score in transition. 

However, he struggled more to score on half-court drives, and Platt would sometimes miss on wild, contested layups due to rushing.  He also struggled to knock down jumpers in this game.  He had trouble making threes or mid-range jumpers, and he had a tendency to miss on pull-up jumpers badly in this game. 

Plus, he was also fairly turnover prone on offense.  On one good play, Platt threw a sharp pass out of a trap to find a cutter to notch an assist, and he was able to kick balls out to shooters off the dribble to set up scoring chances for them.  However, he tended to throw inaccurate pass that would go astray, and he also can be careless with the ball.  On one play, he dribbled the ball carelessly off his foot that went to an opponent, and he also had the ball ripped away another time after coming down with a defensive board.

In this game, Platt was able to leap up to haul in a pair of defensive boards to get some rebounds for his team.  Overall, J.J. Platt is an athletic combo guard that could be a solid defender right away in college basketball, and he is a solid athlete that can make numerous plays on both ends of the floor.  However, he will need to improve his jump shot and shot selection, and he will need to take better care of the basketball on offense.  Right now, his game may be a work in progress, as he will need to improve his jump shot and make better decisions on offense, but over time, he could perhaps be a prospect worth keeping tabs on sometime down the road.

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