Observations on Alize Johnson

March 6, 2018

by Alan Lu

With this year’s NCAA Tournament looming, I decided to take the time to try to scout Missouri State’s 6-9 senior forward, Alize Johnson.  It was quite difficult to find full game footage of him online, and there did not seem to be much that quite represented what he may usually tend to do in games.

So I decided to watch a game that he played last season in a February 9th, 2017 match against Wichita State, as I was able to view this with thanks to YouTube via Jennifer Barnes.  Though he did not play particularly well on this day, this was against a tough opponent, and this seemed to be a good way to measure how well his skills might translate at the next level.

Alize Johnson is an athletic, skilled perimeter-oriented forward that showed a knack for scoring on smooth drives to the basket.  He is an agile player that can use his foot speed and ball handling skills to get past his man, and he also can get tough scores off the dribble.  He can go coast to coast to score and draw free throws on tough layups, and he can score on acrobatic, reverse layups on the break.  Plus, he also managed to use an overhead ball fake to score once.  He also used a pump fake to split a half-hearted double team, as he used a step through move to score on a tough fadeaway off the glass.

He also will look to take jumpers in an attempt to space the floor for his team.  Unfortunately for him, he struggled to knock down jump shots in that game against Wichita State, as he was unable to make shots from outside of the paint area, but he can run off screens and use crossovers to get his shots up.  While he missed his lone three-point attempt, he was able to take a quick three off of a pick and pop play, and that could end up being his bread and butter in the NBA if he works hard to improve at making long-range shots on those types of plays.

He also struggled to score in the post, and he generally had trouble getting deep position on the block as he will need to add more strength, and he had trouble connecting on jump hooks.  Johnson also was unable to seal his man on a couple of occasions, as he was not able to allow his teammate to successfully throw an entry pass to him a couple of times, but he did score once on the block, on a slow drive, he posted up and backed his man down, and he used a pivot to score on a step through move due to possessing good footwork that time.

Also, Johnson showed off perhaps decent playmaking skills.  He can handle the basketball as he would frequently bring the ball up, and he would usually push the ball up the floor off of defensive rebounds.  Johnson would make the extra pass to find the open man, and he also managed to hit the cutter after grabbing an offensive board.  He also found a teammate on the break after going coast to coast off of a defensive board to notch an assist.  However, Johnson also committed his fair share of turnovers, as he struggled to handle the ball off of drives at times.  He was called for traveling on a couple of drives.  He also had a ball poked away on another attempt to take the ball to the hoop to lose it to an opponent.

Surprisingly, Johnson did not rebound as well in this game as he normally did on the season.  He was able to leap up to get his fair share of boards, and he would frequently bring the ball up the floor off of defensive boards to show his point forward potential, but he did not seem to come away with enough rebounds in this game.  He did not seem to be active enough on the boards in this game, and other times, he would be outmuscled on the glass.  Johnson ended up allowing opponents to get several boards in his area, and he ended up committing touch fouls a couple of times afterwards due to over-aggressiveness.

In this game, he was really hampered by foul trouble.  He went for stretches in both halves without playing, which was uncharacteristic since his play was so vital to Missouri State’s success, and his team ended up getting blown out considerably by Wichita State.  Johnson committed a foul by trying unsuccessfully to block a shot from behind on an opponent’s put back with about 11 minutes left in the second half, as he picked up his fourth foul that time, and was left sitting on the bench for a long time before re-entering late in the game.

He also showed average at best defensive skills.  For the positives, Johnson ran in to get a loose ball that was on the ground to get a steal after an opponent dropped a ball off of his toe in an attempt to post up, as Johnson made a good hustle play that time.  He also would contest mid-range shots to force misses, and he also managed to force a miss once when defending in the post.  Plus, he also managed to draw a charge when defending down low against a bigger, stronger player.

However, sometimes Johnson may have lapses defensively.  Sometimes, he will have his hands down when defending interior passes, as he ended up allowing an opponent to throw an easy entry pass to set up a low post score.  Johnson also will sometimes sag too far in the paint or not hedge out on screens, as he will give up too much space to his man, as this led his team to allow opponents to score on a couple of three-point shots.  He also sometimes may struggle to move his feet defensively, as he committed a blocking foul once on a drive.  Another time, he rotated to defend in the post, but he ended up committing a reach-in foul.

Overall, Alize Johnson is an athletic, skilled perimeter-oriented forward that has some intriguing skills, but a couple of things may prevent him from getting picked higher in the NBA draft.  He plays in virtual obscurity at Missouri State, as his team rarely plays against top-level competition and rarely is seen in the spotlight.  He also may not really be a rim protector, as he is not really a shot blocker, and he often has trouble holding position when posting up or defending in the post.  Johnson is a player that may possess a rather atypical skill set, so it may take a creative team in the NBA to maximize his skills to the fullest at the next level.  If so, he could end up being a good find for a team in the association as either a second round pick or undrafted player next season.

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