Blog Entry

Purdue's Johnson now in POY race

Posted on: January 20, 2011 1:33 am
Edited on: January 20, 2011 7:26 am
Every player who flirts with the NBA Draft before returning for his senior season claims three things:
  1. He loves school.
  2. He loves his teammates.
  3. He wants to improve his stock.
I'm genuinely convinced there's a handbook somewhere called "How to properly withdraw from the NBA Draft" -- Mississippi State's Dee Bost has never owned this handbook, by the way -- and that prospects simply highlight sentences from that publication and repeat them when necessary. It's always the same stuff. Help my stock. Raise my stock. Increase my stock. Whatever. But the truth is that most borderline first-round picks who return to school raise their stock very little, if at all, because borderline pros usually remain borderline pros in this sport.

Purdue's JaJuan Johnson might be the exception, though.

At the very least, he looks like it.

"JaJuan is very confident," Purdue coach Matt Painter told reporters late Wednesday after Johnson made an 18-footer to give the Boilermakers a 63-62 win over Penn State. "I would say that's his last step in his development. He's skilled. He's athletic. He can run. He's coachable. He's fun to be around. He's unselfish. [And] now he's confident."

I saw this firsthand over the weekend when I attended Purdue-West Virginia, and I was blown away by how Johnson's game has changed. The 6-foot-10 forward was taking and making jumpers, and he seemed comfortable and confident the entire time. He finished with 27 points points and six rebounds in that narrow loss, then backed it with a 25-point effort against Penn State late Wednesday that lifted his scoring average to 20.5 points per game while further legitimizing him as a serious National Player of the Year candidate.

So how much has Johnson raised his NBA stock this season?

Honestly, I'm not sure.

But he's raised his profile tremendously, already.

And that was always gonna be the first step in this process.
Category: NCAAB

Since: Feb 4, 2008
Posted on: January 20, 2011 9:08 am

Purdue's Johnson now in POY race

He is so much different than last year.  Last year he had a straight on jumper from a little beyond the FT line that we would run a lot, along with some baby hooks, and dunks when available.  This year its just give JJ the ball anywhere and let him create his own shot.  He can turn, elevate away from the defender, and sink it at a very high percentage.  I definitely think he went from an early 2nd round pick last year to top 15 at minimum this year.

The only issue for Purdue is that their best scorer is also their best rebounder so not a lot of offensive boards are being ripped down.

Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: January 20, 2011 8:35 am

Purdue's Johnson now in POY race

How do you talk about JJs chance at POY w/out mentioning defense.  He is the most important part of one of the nations best defenses...thats the part of his game that deserve attention.  No other top 5 POY candidate has the defensive skills of JJ.

Since: Oct 5, 2007
Posted on: January 20, 2011 7:39 am

Purdue's Johnson now in POY race


Since: Feb 13, 2008
Posted on: January 20, 2011 3:41 am

Purdue's Johnson now in POY race

JJ had a really good Sophomore year a year after Hummel's great freshman year, and I think last year Moore was the team's POY.  This year JJ has been sensational, having a better season than any Boilermaker since Glenn Robinson.  He's been consistent at a very high level, and he's not been stopped yet.  If I were to quibble with his performance it would be that because he's able to hit almost any jumper he takes, he's not dominating in the paint as much, but that hasn't stopped him from getting to the foul line.  So glad to see him get a game winning shot, and if he was confident before, he's going to be a whole lot more confident after that.

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