Johnson, despite playing in just 13 games for the Blue Devils in 2020-21, remains a viable Top 15 prospect in the 2021 NBA Draft. The powerful 6-foot-9 forward has a diverse game that includes enough range, strength and open floor capability. The former Phenom U AAU
product made stops at three different high schools before settling at the IMG Academy, where he never actually played. Nevertheless, Johnson -a former five-star recruit, earned a Jordan Brand Classic invitation.
In the 13 games in which Johnson did play for the team, he averaged over 11 points per game and snagged six rebounds per contest. Turnovers, however were an issue, as he posted six games with at least three.
His midseason departure has left many NBA scouts in disagreement on his final draft status. Will he continue the Blue Devils’ recent tradition of forwards going high in the first round or fall out of it altogether? We take a look back at Johnson during his AAU prep level playing days.
LSU’s Cam Thomas ended this past season as the nation’s fourth-leading scorer at 23 points per game. He has a game that combines savvy and footwork, which often ended up with him at the free throw line. Thomas shot 88-percent from the line in 2020-21 for the Tigers and that total ranked 19th nationally. Of the Top 20 players nationally in terms of free throw percentage, Thomas led the group with 220 attempts (7.58 per game) in 29 contests.
The former Oak Hill Academy (Va.) star transferred from Oscar F. Smith HS (Va.) and played for the Boo Williams AAU squad in the Nike EBYL. During his 2019 Offensive Player of the Year performance in the EBYL, he averaged nearly 30 points per game.
If you’re looking for someone to pull for in the 2021 NBA Draft, please stop at former NBA G League Ignite forward Isaiah Todd. His story is not one of redemption but it very well could be. Following a mother, Marlene Venable, who remarkably turned her life around, Todd has displayed a maturity well beyond his years.
Take this past season for instance, where despite starting just two games in the NBA’s G League (for the Ignite), he still managed to average over 12 points per game. The 6-foot-10-inch forward has a chance to develop into a legitimate contributor for the team and he will begin his journey this summer.
It would not have been a surprise to see Todd, who played with fourth overall pick Scottie Barnes on the Nightrydas Elite AAU squad back in 2019, also go in the first round of this year’s draft. He has an 8’11.5″ standing reach, runs the floor well and has potential as a long distance shooter. Despite just two starts for the NBA G League Ignite, he averaged over 12 points per game and shot an impressive 82.4% from the free throw line.
Texas forward Greg Brown III, once a five-star recruit from the same state, earned his keep during a one-year run at the school. A 24-game starter in 2020-21, Brown averaged over nine points and grabbed six rebounds per game. His high-flying antics date back to his time playing with Detroit Pistons 2021 number one overall draft pick Cade Cunningham as a member of the Texas Titans AAU squad in 2019.
Brown III actually has some wing capability and his movement complements rare explosiveness and bounce off the floor. The former Texas Gatorade Player of the Year went under 11 seconds (10.98) in the lane agility and posted a 33 1/2″ standing vertical jump at the 2021 NBA Combine.
Herbert Jones, a four-year contributor for the Crimson Tide, was one of the better defenders in the SEC over that time period. Jones slides his feet defensively, works through ball screens and consistently drew offensive fouls in school. The New Orleans Pelicans drafted him with hopes that he will continue to develop into at least a viable contributor offensively.
The SEC Player and Defensive Player of the Year uses his frame to frustrate guards or forwards on the wings. His shooting improved dramatically from beyond the arc this past season, but if there is a question mark regarding the left-hander’s game, it starts and stops on the offensive end of the court.
He went on to average over 14 points and nearly five rebounds per game for the Sun Devils in 2020-21. We go inside the talented Houston Rockets first-round pick’s game while playing for Vegas Elite AAU in the 2019 Nike EBYL.
Mann, a former four-star recruit, took a huge leap from his freshman to sophomore season and earned first-team All-SEC honors from the league’s coaches. He improved his field goal percentage by nearly 10 percentage points (.356-to-.459), his three-point percentage by nearly 13 percentage points (.275-to-.402) and averaged nearly 15 more minutes per contest.
After a sparkling 2021 NBA Combine performance athletically, FSU’s Scottie Barnes re-affirmed his status as one of the most versatile players in this year’s draft class. His ability to guard multiple positions, run the floor and distribute makes him an amoeba-type prospect. In last year’s NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls surprised many by taking former Seminole Patrick Williams with the fourth overall pick. We spotlighted Williams prior to the draft as a high-riser. Could Barnes be the next Seminole to surprise and go in the top five picks of this year’s draft?
Green, a former consensus five-star prospect and arguably the best player in the Class of 2020, is an explosive leaper and a proficient ball handler. He impressed scouts on the AAU circuit with his ability to slash to the rim and create in transition. As the youngest member of Team USA’s FIBA Under-19 Basketball World Cup roster, Green averaged 10.1 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game.
After forgoing college to play for the NBA G League Ignite, Green continued to answer the bell. He averaged nearly 18 points per game and shot nearly 37% from beyond the arc in 2020-21. A strong lottery possibility in the 2021 NBA Draft, the California native has a chance to go in the draft’s Top Five selections.
Cunningham could become Oklahoma State’s first No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NBA Draft. The school has had just three Top 10 picks in the last 70 years (Joe Bradley-1950, Bryant Reeves-1995, Marcus Smart-2014) and the 2021 Big 12 Player of the Year is nearly a guarantee to become the fourth.
In his lone season on campus, Cunningham -a former AAU standout with the Texas Titans- averaged over 20 points per game, shot 40 percent from beyond the arc and pulled in six rebounds per contest. In addition, he shot a sparkling 85% from the free throw line. It all contributed to him being named the school’s first ever AP first-team All-American.