Keldon Johnson was the top of the crop of the Kentucky Wildcats’ 2018 recruiting class, as he was the #7 ranked player in ESPN’s recruiting rankings for the class.
Despite an experienced and heavily-crammed frontcourt, Johnson secured the starting small forward spot for the Bahamas Tour and likely the regular season.
The timing of the jump and the hangtime will make Johnson an absolute menace in transition pic.twitter.com/Cu5rETR2Zz— Justin Hodges (@HodgepodgeHoops) August 18, 2018
Johnson’s skillset compliments his physical attributes in a mixture that creates a prototype wing slasher and defender. Often times, young prospects with high levels of athleticism tend to struggle with their overall control and with scoring effectively through contact.
Keldon Johnson excels at staying in control and using his body to hold off defenders pic.twitter.com/hBCsd6aSlG— Justin Hodges (@HodgepodgeHoops) August 18, 2018
Johnson has no such difficulties. His feel for the game is tremendous and he utilizes his athleticism to extreme effectiveness. Instead of exploding through lanes as fast as he can and throwing up wild shots, Johnson takes his time and drives through contact with fluidity and control.
He’s able to do so because his ball handling is tight and in control, and his ability to hold the ball tight and not let it get stripped in the lanes.
The hard two steps and gliding through two defenders to finish at the rim. Kids at 18 typically can’t do things like this pic.twitter.com/24kdn2994E— Justin Hodges (@HodgepodgeHoops) August 18, 2018
We also can’t forget about his high flying dunking ability, which was put on full display in the Bahamas.
This is just ridiculous pic.twitter.com/bVXxS4Alvp— Justin Hodges (@HodgepodgeHoops) August 18, 2018
Johnson also has a smooth finesse to his game that allows him to create fluent opportunities going to the rim. To compliment that he has excellent breakaway speed in transition and also great hands to secure outlet passes.
Finishing in the post was an area of struggle in the Bahamas, but his floaters were exceptional.
First the break off speed in transition, then the euro through the lane. Kid just has special, almost Tatum-esque physical quality pic.twitter.com/TFFHZ2inET— Justin Hodges (@HodgepodgeHoops) August 18, 2018
Where Johnson looked at his greatest was playing perimeter defense and being relentless on the defensive end as a whole. His on-ball defense looked NBA-level and he showed high basketball IQ in working around opposing screens and playing help defense.
This on the ball defense by Keldon Johnson is everything. pic.twitter.com/SZLubq2FaT— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) August 11, 2018
While his perimeter jump shot isn’t proficient, Johnson has good mechanics and showed the capability to hit 3-pointers at a decently efficient rate. His wrist motion is what makes his jumper as good-looking as it is now, something he may or may not have picked up from Tyler Herro.
The wrist motion on Keldon’s jumper is what makes him a potentially effective 3PT shooter pic.twitter.com/Zn7qBnXAGg— Justin Hodges (@HodgepodgeHoops) August 18, 2018
Nice find by PJ Washington to Keldon Johnson for the 3. pic.twitter.com/nWzTbNxhYQ— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) August 12, 2018
Keldon Johnson is the perfect compliment to a pair of perimeter-oriented guards in the backcourt and big, bruising big men in the frontcourt. He impacts the game in a widespread fashion, he carries the proficiencies of a typical one-and-done, but it’s his maturity and love for his teammates that make him a pivotal part of a special team.