As we are now one day away from the 2016 NBA Draft, we continue our series by taking a look at the highly athletic and skilled 6’11” forward out of North Carolina, Brice Johnson.
- Class: Senior
- Age: 21
- Height: 6’11”
- Weight: 210 lbs.
- Wingspan: 7’1″
- 28.0 minutes per game
- 17.0 points per game
- 10.4 rebounds per game
- 61.4% shooting from the floor
- 78.3% free throw shooting
The heart and soul of the North Carolina Tar Heels this past season in their road to their National Championship appearance was undoubtedly their star forward Brice Johnson.
Johnson, who contemplated entering his name in last year’s NBA Draft, ultimately chose to return to school and improve his game, which could potentially end up being the smartest decision of his basketball career.
Johnson improved his averages in every major statistical category, posting career highs in points (17.0), rebounds (10.4), field goal percentage (61.4%), and free throw percentage (78.3%). He already had a great motor, seemingly out-hustling most of his competitors at his position. However, Johnson was able to translate his hard work on both ends of the floor into a jump in production on the stat sheet as well.
Among one of the most improved parts of Johnson’s game, which should come into play in a more prominent manner in the NBA, is his mid-range game. Johnson has become a much better passer out of the high post than he was in years past, and to top it off, was able to develop a lethal intermediate-range jump shot. At an athletic 6’11”, Johnson’s ability to stretch the floor will be extremely beneficial at the next level, as the American professional game is trending more prominently towards big men who are able to step back to 15-to-20 feet and knock down a jumper.
Johnson, despite what some of his detractors may say, will always be able to defend and rebound effectively. Despite being a lean 210 lbs., Johnson has very solid fundamentals, both as a defender, and as a rebounder. Not only did he average 1.5 blocks per contest as a senior, but his ability to box-out his man is second-to-none, allowing him to pull down 10.4 rebounds per game during his senior season.
Some areas of improvement for Brice Johnson include the inevitable NBA muscle gain, as adding on some pounds without losing his athleticism and explosiveness, can only help his game moving forward. Additionally, Johnson may want to further improve his free throw shooting. Although he shot an adequate 78% from the line in his senior season at North Carolina, his percentage was never higher than 67% in his prior three years of his collegiate career. He will need to continue to improve his percentage from the line to ensure that the 78% mark that he posted last season was not just simply an aberration.
Finally, one last area of continued improvement for Johnson should be his mid-range shot and maybe even the development of a three-point shot. While his mid-range game was above average last season, Johnson will need to continue to perfect his shot from that distance, as he struggled at times from that range in his first three years with the Tar Heels. Overall, I’m buying in on Johnson’s continued improvement as a shooter moving forward, as he showed continuous gains in all shooting statistics each season in Chapel Hill.
I’m a big fan of Brice Johnson as a prospect at the NBA level. Despite the fact that he is turning 22 years of age a few days after the draft, which will undoubtedly cause some teams to pass on him, I believe that he will be a very good NBA player for years to come. A mid-first round selection is not out of the question. However, I believe it is more likely that he will be off the board late in the first round to one of the several playoff contenders from the 2015-2016 campaign.
NBA Draft Projection: Late First Round Pick