Wesley Johnson pulled down a career-high 19 rebounds to go along with a team-high 20 points in last night's 80-73 Big East win at Seton Hall. It was a performance that may remind fans of Paul Harris' 27 point, 22 rebound performance in last season's six-overtime Big East Tournament victory over Connecticut—but this was better...a lot better.
Many of Harris' rebounds against UConn came at the offensive end (10), and the majority of those (6) were from recovering his own missed layups or dunks. And don't forget that Harris spent 56 minutes on the hardwood that night, nearly a full half more than a regulation game.
However, Johnson's performance was the result of a sound all-around performance at both ends of the floor from tip-off to buzzer, or at least from 30-seconds in until buzzer. Johnson was whistled for fouling Seton Hall's Jeremy Hazell in the game's first minute, resulting in three made free throws from the junior to start the Pirates off on a 3-0 lead.
From that point on, Johnson was fundamentally-sound and showed the Prudential Center crowd why they may be seeing him back before their eyes next season in an NBA uniform. Johnson shot 8-for-16 from the field, his 12th game shooting 50 percent or better in 13 outings. The one game in which he failed to make as many shots as he missed was his Syracuse debut on Nov. 9 against Albany when he went 5-for-11.
Johnson isn't a player who camps out in the low blocks on offense then makes a variety of five, six, and seven-foot shots. He is a triple-threat whose first made basket came from beyond the arc last night—after two Harris-esque missed layups to start.
He also has a knack for coming through when the team needs him. The Orange found themselves trailing midway through the second half, but Johnson hit a jumper and two layups over the span of 2:47 to help the Orange from a 53-57 deficit to a 61-57 lead.
He also had a blocked shot during that time—one of his five on the night—to help keep the Pirates off the scoreboard for more than seven minutes as the Orange went on a 15-0 run.
Like Paul Harris, Syracuse fans likely won't see Wesley Johnson in the orange and blue for a senior season. They also won't see him in the red and white of the Maine Red Claws .
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!