Over four games in the Bahamas, Kentucky freshman Keldon Johnson averaged 13.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per contest. He shot an efficient 53 percent from the field and 44 percent from three, and his intensity on the defensive end of the floor was sensational.
To no one’s surprise, NBA scouts are falling in love with Johnson’s game.
“Love Keldon Johnson as a pro,” one NBA scout sitting courtside told Adam Zagoria of ZAGSBLOG. “Kid is big time.”
Johnson, a five-star small forward out of Virginia, was selected to the McDonald’s All-American game and the Jordan Brand Classic as a senior in high school. In both events, those in attendance for practice and the games raved about his relentless passion for the game. In fact, Johnson sat out the actual JBC game with an ankle injury, but scouts in attendance were fascinated by the Wildcat forward’s dedication to getting healthy enough to compete. He worked out his ankle all week in practice, running up and down the court, shooting jumpers, and getting it stretched out.
There wasn’t much at stake in the game, but Johnson still did whatever he could to prepare for the slight chance he would be healthy enough to play. He’s a competitor, and NBA scouts (including New York Knicks president Steve Mills) were extremely impressed.
Kentucky head coach John Calipari said Johnson deserves to be in the competition for one of the top players in all of college basketball.
“If there are five better players than him in the country, you gotta tell me who they are. I’ve done this a long time and I know who’s who,” he told the media at the Atlantis last night.
ESPN’s Seth Greenberg, who served as one of the lead analysts during the SEC Network’s coverage of the Big Blue Bahamas tour, said Johnson’s all-around game separates him from the pack.
“He can run, he gets out in transition, he can finish, he’s an alert defender, he’s a physical defender and he can help rebound,” Greenberg said. “He can do a lot of things, and he has the ability to make some shots.”
If things go as planned, Johnson could find himself in the top ten of next June’s NBA Draft.