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Kentucky Basketball: What to expect from Keldon Johnson

Big Blue Nation is going to love this guy.

Amy Newman

Keldon Johnson is not the best scorer in the 2018 college basketball recruiting class. He may not be the best athlete. He is not projected as a top-5 NBA Draft pick next year.

But if you are looking for the kind of guy that can take your team to the next level with his leadership, attitude, and play-making ability, it is hard to be Keldon Johnson.

Johnson comes to Kentucky as a five-star, top-15 recruit. He committed to John Calipari and his staff back in November, and he has continued to prove himself with every outing.

In addition to his strong play at Oak Hill Academy in the spring, he showed out at the McDonald’s All-American Game and the Jordan Brand Classic.

As a 6’6” wing, there is so much to love about Keldon Johnson. On the court, he can score in a variety of ways. Of course, fans will be most excited about his ability to get to the rim.

Johnson has a nice vertical and will not hesitate to dunk on someone’s face. He is very aggressive with the basketball and loves to get into the paint.

However, his scoring around the rim is not all about the slam-dunk. Johnson has shown that he has the ability to finish around the basket with either hand, in traffic, and through contact.

When you need a bucket, Keldon Johnson is going to go get it. And when he doesn’t, he almost always ends up at the free throw line. He is the type of playmaker every team needs if they want to win big games.

One of the most under-rated aspects of Johnson’s game is his shooting. While he still has some work to do on his three-point shot, his mid-range game is ahead of where most players are when they enter college.

His jumper is dangerous, and when you add that to the threat of him driving, Johnson becomes almost impossible to stop with the ball in his hands.

Perhaps the most important thing Johnson brings to the table is his attitude. He plays with passion, with swagger, and his confidence is contagious. Being known as a trash talker, Johnson’s teammates are already excited to have his energy carry the team on the court. I am guessing fans will love his fire as well.

“Keldon Johnson is an alpha dog. He’s an outgoing guy that’s going to rip your soul out and eat it for lunch,” recruiting analyst Corey Evans told KSR. “He’s that kind of dude. That’s the kind of guy that Kentucky needs.”

Besides PJ Washington, Johnson may be the biggest lock to be a starter. Listed as a shooting guard, he will likely play the 3 for the Wildcats. Although, Calipari has also talked about his ability to play the point if needed.

Best case scenario, Johnson plays with the energy of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, has the swagger of John Wall, and knocks down mid-range jumpers like Kevin Knox. But if he can give us even a glimpse of any of those guys, he will be a great leader for this year’s team.

Enjoy some more highlights of Johnson from this year’s McDonalds All-American Game.

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