Bama Hoops Hype

2017-18 Season Preview: Avery Johnson Jr.

Photo by Joe Habshey - Bama Hoops Hype

Avery Johnson Jr. was a solid front court presence for the Tide last season, playing a significant role in some of the Tide’s best performances of the last campaign. Johnson demonstrated his grit and resilience throughout the season, consistently willing his team throughout their moments of adversity.

Contributing just over 19 minutes per game, Johnson’s season was less than spectacular statistically, shooting 33% from the field and averaging but 1.4 assists per contest. What Johnson lacked in scoring output, however, he more than made up in the intangibles, demonstrating a hustle that would ignite his team. With another offseason under his belt, there’s no doubt that Johnson’s shot will improve, but given all of the talent that this freshman class offers, the biggest improvement for Johnson must be in his assist column. If he wants to solidify a place in this team, Johnson must find ways to get his team the ball and become a true floor general capable of orchestrating this potentially high-octane, potent Crimson Tide offense.

All of the hype coming into this season rests on the shoulders of Collin Sexton, and while he looks to be a great ball-handler in his own right, Sexton — like most freshman — could struggle early on in his transition to the Division I style of play. If Johnson can prove himself as a veteran member of this squad and demonstrate his poise, then I see him playing a crucial role in the Tide’s success this season.

Becoming a lockdown defender will be the crucial next step in the development of Johnson’s game. Scoring will not be an issue for this Tide team as the roster is loaded with offensive firepower, but trying to outscore your opponents every night is not the best way to try and make an NCAA berth. The Tide is going to need to really work hard on both sides of the floor, and Johnson will be a key piece in the depth of the Tide’s front court. Johnson had 25 steals last season, and while causing turnovers is terrific, stats aren’t everything, simply making it tough on his opponents and maintaining high intensity and pressure will be of paramount importance.

Expect Johnson to come off the bench this season and contribute 20 minutes a game. As long as he competes and excels in the intangibles and finds ways to get the Tide rolling, he should greatly contribute in the push for an NCAA tournament berth.

 

Johnathan Anderson covers Alabama Basketball for Bama Hoops Hype. You can follow him on Twitter for updates and analysis.

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