Jim Boeheim's 2013 Syracuse Orange recruiting class is rounding into shape, as the commitment of 6'7" small forward B.J. Johnson became public this week.
The Syracuse Post-Standard reported that the Philadelphia-area 16-year old's commitment directly followed his campus visit this past weekend. He joins Tyler Ennis and recent recruit Chinonso Obokoh in the 2013 class.
Hailing from Lower Merion High School, where Kobe Bryant played from 1992-96, Johnson serves as an inside-outside threat who can hit long-range shots and also slash to the rim.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of his game, and how will he impact the Orange as they transition to the ACC in 2013-14?
Getting to the rim and protecting the rim are a couple of Johnson's strong suits, especially in transition. He has the athleticism to score off the drive even though his ball-handling is average.
When he attacks the hoop, he's proficient at adjusting in mid-air, and even absorbing contact before the shot. He's only 175 pounds but he hangs tough against heavier defenders. A few more pounds prior to arriving in Syracuse will serve him well.
The left-hander shows superb timing for shot-blocking especially from the weak side. He's too short to be a prolific shot-swatter in college, but he'll provide solid defense against most ACC small forwards.
One of the most exciting parts of Johnson's game is his instincts and ability to jump passing lanes. He's also good at running the floor, filling the lane and finishing with a flourish. With a little bit of coaching, he could be a fantastic weapon in the Orange 2-3 zone.
The most obvious weakness for Johnson is his thin build. At 6'7", he should be at least 200 pounds, so he is 25 pounds short of where he needs to be. He's getting away with it at the high school level, but his drives to the paint and defense will be compromised if he doesn't bulk up a little.
Another area Johnson must improve is his shooting delivery. The actual shooting form isn't bad, and he has a smooth, accurate stroke, but it's too slow.
He must expedite his shooting release in order to effectively shoot over college defenses. It will help him put up more shots in spot-up situations and off the dribble.
Lastly, Johnson's ball handling could use some significant upgrading. He can create his own shot using pull-up jumpers, spin moves and one-dribble slashes, but he's still left-hand dominant and unable to get past good defenders.
If his dribbling becomes more natural, it will not only open up his scoring options, but it will help him survey the floor and become a better passer.
In Johnson, the 'Cuse have a promising swingman with versatility: He'll help Jerami Grant and Michael Gbinije in the forward depth in addition to working with Michael Carter-Williams, Tyler Ennis and Trevor Cooney on the perimeter.
During his freshman year, he won't be high on the depth chart, but he will contribute on both ends and fit well into Syracuse's aggressive zone defense and up-tempo style.
Johnson's commitment bolsters the Orange depth in the future, and gives Jim Boeheim another weapon to work with when Syracuse joins the ACC.
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