Last night, five-star wing Keldon Johnson became Kentucky’s second commitment of the class of 2018.
The 6’6, 215 lbs. prospect out of Maryland chose the Wildcats over Texas, Maryland and NC State.
ESPN lists him as the No. 7 prospect in the class, and other recruiting services have him list him as one of the top 15-20 players in the nation. Following a huge summer playing in Colorado Springs for Team USA’s camp and the AAU circuit, Johnson is seen as one of the highest-rising prospects in high school basketball.
Let’s break down what Johnson brings to the table for the Wildcats:
Toughness. Tenacity. Grittiness.
Ask any recruiting analyst about Keldon Johnson, and this will be the first topic of conversation.
This kid embraces contact and finishes through it. You could make an entire highlight tape of his and-one conversions and still find a way to be amazed.
In fact, this one comes pretty darn close.
We loved Isaiah Briscoe for being a pit bull, and Johnson is a better scoring version of that. He backs down from no one and takes competitiveness to a whole new level. He has been working on building muscle, but you’d have no idea he’s leaner than the competition with how he plays.
Johnson is an alpha-male, and he plays like it every second he’s on the floor. He’s going to go to war for the Wildcats.
Beyond hard-nosed effort plays, Johnson’s pure basketball skill has blossomed in a massive way. He used to rely solely on drives to the basket and pure athletic plays, but his shooting has improved in a big way.
At Team USA minicamp a few weeks back, several analysts in attendance said his improved offensive game has allowed him to easily take over as one of the top players in the nation. Some said he could end up as a top-five prospect before it’s all said and done.
His ball handling is solid, and impressive dribble moves allow him to create space to either get to the basket or finish over defenders with the help of his great length. His passing is above average, but UK likely won’t need him to do much of that.
Johnson has always been a prolific scorer, and he’s only getting better.
Similar to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander this year, Johnson is incredibly long and uses that to his advantage to jump passing lanes and deflect passes.
On-ball, he’s shifty and uses his athleticism to stay in front of his opponent. He may get out-muscled, but he’s not going to ever get out-hustled on defense. I’d take the latter all day, every day.
The best part of Johnson’s defensive ability is what’s to come, not necessarily what we see today. Things are just now starting to click with him, and he’s only going to get better.
He’s close with other top recruits
Almost immediately, Immanuel Quickley reached out to Johnson on Twitter to congratulate him on his commitment to Kentucky.
— Immanuel Quickley (@IQ_GodSon) November 11, 2017
Quickley then followed it up with a tweet directed toward Tyler Herro and Zion Williamson, implying that he and Johnson reaching out to the both of them and bringing them to Lexington.
— Immanuel Quickley (@IQ_GodSon) November 12, 2017
Considering Herro will likely be committing to Kentucky on Tuesday, it looks like it’ll be all three of them working to bring Williamson home.
In past interviews, Johnson has talked about wanting to play with top talent and how he believes other players will want to play with him. He was a popular kid at Team USA minicamp, and he’s really popular with recruits on the AAU circuit. With how much he’s blowing up, that’s only going to get better.
He may not have the name recognition of RJ Barrett like some fans hoped for, but he’s going to be a household name sooner rather than later. Kentucky just got the highest rising prospect in the nation, and he’s going to be a stud for the Wildcats.