Tennessee first-year guard Keon Johnson has announced his intention to file as an early-entry candidate for the 2021 NBA draft.
"The NBA has always been my goal, but I never expected it to come this soon," Johnson told Jonathan Givony of ESPN. "I really don't care what number I get drafted at. I just want to go somewhere I fit in that organization. Where I can keep developing and find my niche."
Johnson was ranked as the No. 19 overall prospect in 247Sports' class of 2020 men's high school basketball composite rankings. The Bell Buckle, Tennessee, native was also fourth among shooting guards.
Jerry Meyer, 247Sports' director of basketball scouting, compared the 19-year-old to Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard Malik Beasley and offered this write-up on his game:
"A well-built, physical and explosive athlete. A well-rounded and versatile offensive player. Primarily a slasher who can both finish and find open teammates. Capable and improving outside shooter. Room for improvement as a full-court ball handler. Quality rebounder for position and versatile defender. Should hear his name called in the first round of the NBA draft whenever he declares."
He wrote in the big-board piece:
"Keon Johnson averaged 14.0 points in February and looked more confident in his skills and less reliant on athleticism and effort.
"Early as an NBA pro, he still projects as more of an energizer and defender, but the flashes of ball-handling and shot-making create optimism over his potential to become a tougher half-court scoring and playmaking threat.
"Johnson started the season at No. 7—outside the top five because of a lack of offensive polish but top-10 based on long-term upside fueled by physicality, explosion, aggression and room to improve his off-the-dribble game and shot. Nothing has changed in his scouting report or projection with March Madness looming."
Johnson played an integral role for a Vols team that improved after going 17-14 overall and 9-9 in the SEC last year. Those marks jumped to 18-9 overall and 10-7 in conference play this year, with the team sitting in the top 25 of the Associated Press poll all year.
However, the Vols did fall short in the first round of the NCAA tournament, losing to a scorching-hot Oregon State team that rolled into March Madness after winning the Pac-12 title.
For the season, Johnson averaged 11.3 points on 44.9 percent shooting, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.
It's no surprise that Johnson will be heading to the NBA draft, and it won't be a shock if he safely lands in the lottery portion of the first round, either.