As JaJuan Johnson Declares, Boiler Nation Needs To Breathe

Scott Henry@@4QuartersRadioFeatured ColumnistApril 12, 2010

SPOKANE,WA - MARCH 21: JaJuan Johnson #25 of the Purdue Boilermakers drives the ball against the Texas A&M Aggies during the second round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Spokane Arena on March 21, 2010 in Spokane, Washington. Purdue defeated Texas A&M 63-61. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

News of JaJuan Johnson declaring for the NBA Draft has reached the blogosphere, and the reaction is predictably hysterical.

Just when it seems that Purdue may have a realistic shot at a championship (at least Andy Katz seems to think so), along comes a story to make Boilermaker Nation cry in their, um, boilermakers yet again.

Not to mention Gary Parrish coming along to twist the knife even further, but that's another story.

Before everyone indulges their woe-is-us impulses, however, let's examine JJ with a critical eye.

Why Would the NBA Take Him?

He's 6'10" with an 18-foot jump shot. Long body, good shot-blocker, can make the finesse plays inside. Sounds great, right?  So...

Why Wouldn't the NBA Take Him?

On that 6'10" frame, there's only 215 pounds of flesh and bone. He's a fairly maligned rebounder, even in college. While he had 10 double-figure rebounding games this season, he had seven more with four boards or less, including a three-carom night against Texas A&M in the NCAA Tournament, so there's a tendency to disappear.

Some of the disappearances can be attributed to Johnson's own forays on the perimeter, as other players below him on the list linked above have been known to stroke the three. However, also partially because of JJ's work on the perimeter, his field goal percentage stood at a mediocre-for-a-center 50.4 percent this season.

The other part of that rebounding malaise stems from that 215-pound frame. If his jump shot and ballhandling were more consistent, we could possibly project him as a small forward. They're not, though, so right now he's an undersized power forward who would get hammered mercilessly in the Association.

Is He on the NBA's Radar?

Considering several teams like to dazzle the establishment by scraping up some Euroleague guys who will never see an NBA contract, of course they know about a two-time All-Big Ten center. But what do they think of him? That's the million dollar question.

No team will tell you, so we must consult the Web sites that rank players for such purposes.

NBADraft.net: They have a mock showing JJ as a high second-round pick...in 2011.  His profile? Bare. Hmmm.

DraftExpress.com: Same mock status as above. At least he has a profile, even if it hasn't been updated in about 400 days or so.

RealGM.com: On their inaugural Top 100 list for this year's draft, we need to scroll all the way down to No. 78 before we get to Johnson's name.

Does any of this sound like the treatment of a highly touted 2010 prospect?

Not really. So, it begs the question:

WTF Is JaJuan Thinking?

He's likely thinking that he'll get a little feedback from actual, official NBA scouts rather than the armchair Web sites and bloggers. That way, he makes the most informed decision he possibly can.

If I were on Pardon the Interruption playing a game of Odds Makers right now, and I was asked to give my odds on JJ staying in the draft, I'd come back with an answer in the neighborhood of five percent. If he's not a first-round pick, there's no guaranteed cash, so it'd be a huge gamble for him to officially leave.

As more touted freshman and sophomore prospects declare, it pushes Johnson further down the big priority list for the scouts. He has until May 8 to decide officially, but I won't be surprised if he turns around and comes back sooner once he gets the information he needs.

Only when JJ shows up to an early May press conference looking like Karl Malone will I become truly concerned. Something tells me that might be as likely as 50 Cent's next album being grounded in acoustic folk.

Check out podcasts of Scott's radio show 4 Quarters at 4qr.mevio.com.


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