Hitachi Sun Rockers
H: 6' 6"|
W: 216 lbs
(31 Years Old)
|Agent: Brad Ames ||
High School: Murrah
Hometown: Jackson, MS
|Year||Source||Height w/o Shoes||Height w/shoes||Weight||Wingspan||Standing Reach||Body Fat||No Step Vert||Max Vert|
|2007||NBA Pre-Draft Camp||6' 3.75"||6' 5.75"||216||6' 5"||8' 2"||5.4||26.5||35.0|
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NBA Summer League Player Reports (Part Two)|
July 26, 2009
It has been more than two years since we’ve checked in on Johnson, and while he remains a fringe NBA player, he’s developed significantly since his days as a dominant scorer at Jackson State. Standing a bit shorter than his listed 6-6, Johnson doesn’t have a big wingspan, nor is he a great athlete. However, he’s a gifted scorer and passer whose play with the Bakersfield Jam of the NBADL earned him some time with the Cleveland Cavaliers last season. Despite playing only two games for the NBA D-League Select team due to a minor injury, Johnson impressed those in attendance with his ability to put points on the board –scoring 32 points in 49 minutes of action.
Aggressive and exceptionally smart, Johnson has always been known for his jump shot. His ability to knock down shots from the midrange made him a terror to defend at the college level, and remains a staple of his offensive arsenal. He shows excellent body control when pulling up off the dribble, seldom showing any inconsistencies in his form. In addition to very good footwork and great elevation, Johnson has also gotten considerably better at choosing his spots, utilizing the same polished ball fakes and jab steps that he did as a collegiate to create enough space to get his shot off. When he’s not going one-on-one, Johnson shows great poise on the pick and roll, recognizing when he can use the screen most effectively to create space. The footwork and patience he shows running the pick and roll is extremely impressive, as is his ability to feed the post and find his shooters spotting up on the wing.
Johnson showed his most promising development this week when getting to the basket. Not blessed with great quickness or explosiveness, Johnson has clearly spent some time developing his floater, which allows him to score efficiently around the rim. He’s a bit more aggressive when driving the ball all the way to the rim then he was two seasons ago, showing the same fearlessness that earned him more than 9 trips to the line each game during his final season at Jackson State. Still only a decent finisher due to his average leaping ability, Johnson also offers some value in mismatch situations, having the ability to beat bigger defenders off the dribble and take smaller guards down low to utilize a couple of polished post moves.
In addition to the strides Johnson has made offensively, he’s taken some small steps on the defensive end. Not blessed with the lateral quickness or length necessary to force many turnovers, Johnson plays a solid, but unspectacular brand of defensive. Giving his man a cushion to help himself prevent dribble penetration, the biggest improvement in Johnson’s defense is on the pick and roll, where he is much better at getting over screens and using his body than he once was. He still lets his man beat him off the dribble periodically, and needs to show more consistent focus, but his time with the Cavaliers appears to have been a positive experience for him in terms of defensive development.
One of the top players in the NBADL last season, Johnson is the type of player that could either catch on with a team in training camp, or become an excellent combo guard in Europe. He offers obvious value on the offensive end with his playmaking skills and scoring instincts, and seems to be interested in improving his game. Though he didn’t get a chance to play in his team’s last three Summer League games due to a right heel contusion, he’s once again taken advantage of an audition in front of NBA decision-makers.
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Orlando Pre-Draft Camp: Final Recap
June 4, 2007
Johnson was effective at times during the pre-draft camp, but will have to make some adjustments in order to become NBA ready. He certainly has the talent to play a role in the NBA some day, and did a nice job this week of showcasing what he can potentially offer a team.
The majority of Johnson’s points came on mid-range jumpers off the dribble, many of which were created when he was given the ball on the pick and roll. He shows good elevation in shooting the mid-range jumper while getting the shot off very quickly. Despite good accuracy from out to about 20 feet, Johnson didn’t show range out to the NBA three point line, even as a set shooter, going 0-5. While the senior guard received a number of nice looks off the pick and roll, he rarely decided to turn the corner and penetrate to the basket. On the few occasions Johnson went to the hoop, he seemed to lack the creativity or explosiveness near the rim to be an effective slashing threat right now. At Jackson State, some of his points came from the low post, but he lacks the size and strength to translate this to the NBA.
Johnson’s shot selection at times seemed fairly questionable, even if he was able to create good shots for himself from mid-range thanks to his excellent array of jabs steps and hesitation moves. He is both smart and extremely strong, meaning he has considerable potential here.
Defense will need to be an area of focus for Johnson, whose lack of length and lateral quickness puts him at an immediate disadvantage. To become an adequate defender, better positioning and use of his body will be necessary. Focus was also a problem from Johnson at times on defense. Despite the limitations, he could become a passable defender with better effort in this area, especially when it comes to team defensive rotations.
Johnson was among the leaders in scoring throughout the NCAA season, but he will be a role player at the NBA level. For this reason, the guard from Jackson State made need to become more selective with the type of shots he takes on the court. NBA teams rarely run plays for guys like Johnson, but he has the tools to make the adjustment to the NBA game. On draft night, Trey Johnson will likely hear his name in the second round, but his combination of feel, natural scoring ability and strength will give him a good chance to carve out a career in the NBA.
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Orlando Pre-Draft Camp: Day Three
June 1, 2007
As one of the top pure scorers in college basketball, many people expected a strong performance from Trey Johnson here in Orlando. After struggling during the first game, he bounced back with one of the better performances throughout today’s games.
The bulk of Johnson’s points were scored from between 15 and 20 feet, where he used a high screen to create his shot. On the pick and roll plays, he shot a number of fade-away jumpers while moving to the right, a shot that seems nearly impossible to disrupt. Though this shot was effective a number of times, Johnson sometimes cools off and struggles to score for periods of time.
Though the senior guard had a number of pick and rolls run for him, he rarely decided to turn the corner and attempt to penetrate past the defender. He was fouled twice on drives to the basket, and it would add another dimension to the game if he attacked the hoop with better consistency. Johnson also appears to be struggling with the adjustment to the NBA three point line right now but he certainly has the shooting stroke to become at least a moderate threat.
Despite his effectiveness on the offensive end, Johnson struggled on defense against a number of players, including Brandon Heath and Brad Newley. The lack of fundamentals in this area hurt Johnson, and a lack of lateral quickness compounds the problem.
Johnson has the potential to become a scoring threat at the 2 off the bench, but his defense must improve in order for him to become a mainstay in an NBA rotation. It will also be interesting to see if he can adjust to becoming a role player rather than a first option on the offensive end. Players like Johnson rarely have plays run for them at the next level, and he must learn to get the bulk of his shots within the flow of the offense.
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Orlando Pre-Draft Camp: Day Two
May 30, 2007
After being arguably the best player in the camp in the drills last night and this morning, Trey Johnson had a first game performance that he’d probably prefer to forget. He was aggressive the way you’d hope he’d be for the most part, but his shots just weren’t falling for him for the most part, particularly early on. He often looked like he had decided what he was going to do with the ball in his hands before reading the defense and responding to what was thrown at him, pulling up for some very tough contested jumpers that just didn’t fall for him the way they did previously in this camp. Sometimes it seems like he might have been thinking too much. Later in the game he made a good drop-off in transition, and then got to the basket and finished with a nice floater to salvage a pretty average performance.
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Orlando Pre-Draft Camp: Day One
May 30, 2007
Trey Johnson had one of the more noteworthy performances of the first day, showing off his scoring and passing skills, doing a really good job making use of the opportunities that came to him and not forcing the issue with the ball. Johnson was hitting from mid-range consistently, especially on his pretty stepback jumper, which he does an excellent job getting separation on. He also hit from behind the arc at least once during the scrimmages, and did a good job making the extra pass when his shot wasn’t there for him. Defensively, he showed a pretty solid fundamental base, and was putting in the effort, though his lateral quickness looked suspect at times.
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NBA Draft Diary: Trey Johnson
May 2, 2007
It takes a special kind of athlete to achieve high levels of success in two sports. Trey Johnson is a special athlete. Coming out of high school he was drafted by the Kansas City Royals as a pitching prospect. Johnson decided to pass on the major leagues and try his hand at the college game first. He attended Northeast Mississippi Community College for a year before moving on to Alcorn State. Any future in baseball though came to an abrupt end when Johnson tore ligaments in his arm in his very first appearance for the Braves; he would require Tommy John surgery to repair his pitching arm. Luckily for Johnson, he had taken up basketball several years earlier.
As a kid growing up, Johnson was always around the game, playing in YMCA leagues with friends. He always felt it was a sport he could find success in, and began playing seriously his junior year of high school.
“I was always pretty confident with what I could do,” Johnson said. “I guess the summer going into my senior year, I had a pretty good summer, and I started thinking this is something I can do as far as going to college, and who knows how far it can take me.”
Johnson performed well enough during his two years of high school to garner interest from several junior colleges. After his one year stop at Northeast Mississippi CC, Johnson found him self lacing up for Alcorn State. The 6’5” guard had modest numbers for the Braves, averaging just over 11 points, but wasn’t happy with the team’s losing ways. It was at this point that Johnson made the life-changing decision to transfer to Jackson State and focus solely on basketball.
“I wasn’t whole heartedly into the baseball thing in anymore,” he said. “I had sort of shifted my focus to basketball. I played baseball at the junior college level, and when I went out and competed, I had it, but as far as practicing, I was kind of burned out. I grew up playing baseball and it was kind of like a job when I was younger, so I got burnt out on it.”
The transfer to Jackson State meant a year on the bench for Johnson, but as a player who is always thinking, he quickly turned this time off into a positive.
“When I transferred to Jackson St, going into the summer before the year I was sitting out, I actually prepared like I was going into a year of playing,” he said. “I didn’t take any days off, I worked hard in the gym still like I was going to play that year, and I worked hard that year all the way through.”
That alone would have been a sign of dedication from any player, but Johnson went the extra step. Still relatively new to competitive basketball, he attended every single Tiger home game and studied the game. He learned the intricacies of his new team’s offense and learned the game from a whole new angle.
“I was able to just play the game in my head, I wasn’t able to do this before because I had to just go out and play right away, but being able to sit and learn helped me out a lot.”
Armed with this newfound knowledge, and a full year of intense training under his belt, Johnson was ready to start his career at Jackson State. He didn’t disappoint. As a junior, Johnson averaged 23.5 points and was 11th in the nation in scoring, while shooting a scorching 44.1% from beyond the arc. This season, Johnson upped his numbers even more, averaging 27.1 points and finishing second in the country in scoring.
With such impressive scoring performances being turned in game after game during his two years with the Tigers, many scouts and fans began to label Johnson as just another mid-major gunner, launching up shots just to keep his team in the game. As Johnson put it though, that wasn’t exactly the case.
“You’d be kind of surprised actually,” he said. “A lot of people think the offense went through me, but it actually didn’t. When I first came here, we ran the same offense we had run prior to my arrival, and that was the same offense we ran during my two years. They didn’t change anything, they didn’t adjust anything.”
The Jackson State offense according to Johnson is really more of a guideline than set plays. Players are expected to be able to make reads off of passes and cuts and run the offense based on their understanding of the game.
“I feel like I have a high basketball IQ and that helped me out a lot, and I was just able to create my own shot a lot of the time,” he said. “It may have seemed like the offense was going through me, but at the same time when I was out of the game we ran the same offense. It was just that the things I had worked on kind of catered to that offense.”
This mature understanding of the game, Johnson hopes, will catch the eye of NBA scouts and help raise his stock.
“There are guys who can play basketball, and then there are basketball players,” Johnson said. “My coach always kind of stressed that to us. There are the guys that always want to come to the gym and just play pickup and they call themselves basketball players, but can they play the game? I always wanted to be a guy that can play the game of basketball. When somebody sees me, I might not jump out at them as a high jumper or things like that, but when they see me play, they can really appreciate what I bring to the table as far as knowing the game and how to play it.”
Johnson’s basketball IQ and his scoring ability have drawn comparisons from to NBA rookie Brandon Roy. While Johnson stated that he was honored just to be mentioned along side Roy, the sharp shooter likened himself to the Detroit Piston’s Chauncey Billups. Both players are bigger guards that were tremendous scorers during their college careers. Billups had to deal with critics saying he wouldn’t be able to transfer over from the shooting guard to the point guard position in the NBA, but he prevailed when given the opportunity. Billups’s game is also very fundamental and without a tremendous amount of flash.
“That’s kind of how I see myself,” Johnson said. “I’m not a very flashy guy; I’m not going to wow you with this pass or that pass; I’m going to make the right pass, or I’m going to make the big shot. I just look and see how I’m being compared right now to these guys; I just hope that one day people will be comparing young players to me as an NBA player.”
While the comparisons to current pros has been nice for Johnson, he had the opportunity to test his game against a future NBA player in the form of Corey Brewer when Jackson State met Florida in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Though the Gators ran away with the game, winning 112-69 en route to a second straight national title, Johnson played very well against Brewer’ fantastic defense, scoring 21 points and dishing out 5 assists. For Johnson it was a real statement performance, proving that his scoring abilities were the real deal.
“I knew it was a real good chance for me to show what I had, and kind of test out my skills not for myself, but to show scouts that I’m not just scoring 27 points because I play in the SWAC or because of the competition I face. I felt like I could do that on anybody.”
Towards the end of that game, Johnson landed awkwardly after a shot and tweaked his back, an injury that kept him out of the NABC All-Star Game and the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. While the rest has been necessary, it has also been irksome for Johnson who is more than ready to the draft process underway.
“I grew up my whole life being that kid in the classroom when the teacher asks what you want to be when you grow up, I just knew I wanted to play professional sports,” he said. “It didn’t matter what sport it was, that was just always my answer. I never said I wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer; I’ve always wanted to be a professional athlete. It’s always been a dream and a goal, and now that it’s coming closer to reality, I’m anxious. I’m ready to get everything underway and done. I’m ready to close one chapter and open another.”
Still, with nearly two months until draft day, there is plenty of work to be done. Johnson is training six days a week, twice a day, in preparation. He has said that he is working on his entire game so that he doesn’t overlook a single detail that could cost him in the eyes of the scouts. While his main goals are to improve his ball handling and extend his range, conditioning, he said, is going to be the key.
“I feel like if I’m in my best shape than I’m going to be at the top of my game for a long time,” he said.
While scoring is certainly the biggest strength in Johnson’s game, he states that he thinks he can further improve his ability to free himself up for shot attempts. He also said he will be working on many of the mental aspects of his game, specifically making better reads while on the floor.
Johnson will continue to work hard with his two-a-day training sessions in preparation for his life long dream of career in professional sports. With so much to offer, it was no surprise that when asked what type of team he would be best suited for, the always confident but never cocky Johnson put it simply:
“It really doesn’t matter to me, I feel like I can help any team, whatever their needs may be. I think I can bring anything to the table that is needed.”
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NCAA Tournament: Stock Watch (round of 64, Friday games)--Stock Up
March 17, 2007
Although the final score (113-69) would never indicate it, Jackson State actually went neck and neck with the defending national champions for the entire first half and even led for certain stretches. And while the game quickly got out of hand once the floodgates of Florida’s 3-point shooters opened up early in the 2nd half, Trey Johnson still did a pretty convincing job showing that he belonged on the same floor with the three likely lottery picks he shared it with.
Despite his team’s success, early on things didn’t look all that pretty on an individual level for Johnson. He rushed his perimeter shot badly and came away empty on most of his early attempts, but quickly got into the flow of things and began showing off his all-around skill level. The story of this game from Johnson’s perspective has to be the way he matched up athletically with Florida. Johnson showed excellent quickness creating his own shot while going both left and right, getting into the paint on a number of occasions and either setting up teammates or trying to finish the play himself, with mixed results He lacks a bit of explosiveness to finish in traffic against the type of shot-blocking threats Florida had at its disposal, but in terms of his mobility moving around on the floor, he didn’t seem to miss a step. This was very much evident in the amount of fouls he managed to draw.
On the perimeter, Johnson used a versatile arsenal of jab steps and hesitation moves to keep Corey Brewer guessing and giving him the space he needed to operate. His pull-up jumper from mid-range looked very solid, and his passing skills were on full display with the number of terrific looks he created for his teammates. These weren’t always converted into made baskets and therefore assists (although he still finished with 5), but it was a lot easier to see the backup point guard potential tonight that many see in him. Florida threw numerous traps and double teams at him in order to keep the ball out of his hands, and Johnson responded calmly by keeping his head up and all times and finding the open man .
Defensively, Johnson had a difficult time contesting the shots of the much taller Corey Brewer, and therefore gave up a fair share of open looks on the perimeter. This was never considered his strong point, but he certainly did put in a good effort this time, attempting to draw a charge on one occasion, and getting dirty on the floor for a loose ball that he managed to keep in bounds despite being attacked simultaneously by two Gators.
This was the last game of Johnson’s career, and therefore clearly the last time he’ll have to deal with such a huge disparity in talent as there was between Jackson State and Florida tonight. Despite wanting to do a little too much early on and letting that affect his shot selection, he fared about as well as you can expect considering the circumstances. We’ll figure out pretty soon just how much this affects his draft stock.
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NBA Draft Stock Watch: Conference Tournament Week (Part Three)
March 14, 2007
Jackson State scoring machine Trey Johnson continued his fantastic senior season over the weekend, taking his team on his back and leading them to the SWAC tournament championship and his first ever NCAA Tournament berth. He was right on par with his 27.1 point per game average over the weekend, and came up big with scoring efforts of 32 and 33 points respectively in his team’s semi-final and championship game wins. He was the decisive factor towards the end of the game in the championship against Mississippi Valley State, scoring seven points in a two-minute span to break the game wide open with just a few minutes left. He also surpassed Lindsey Hunter on Jackson State's single-season scoring list in the process.
Johnson did a fantastic job of utilizing his size and strength against smaller opponents. He is a threat to score from the low post, but can also beat you off the dribble with his explosive first step and heady play. The former minor league baseball player does an outstanding job of employing shot fakes and jab steps, but is especially deadly when driving right. His three point range extends out the NBA line, and it is not abnormal to see him drill heavily contested jump shots off the dribble from 20 feet and beyond. Simply put, Trey is a downright scoring machine at the collegiate level and should be considered a prime prospect to develop into a legitimate scoring punch off of the bench.
It has been quite clear throughout the season that the Jackson State coaching staff was attempting to mask Trey’s defensive ability, or lack thereof. He doesn’t seem to have phenomenal lateral quickness or length, and often struggled throughout the year to keep his man in front of him when isolated upon. While on the topic of weaknesses, it must be noted that Johnson is extremely right hand dominant, rarely even putting the ball on the floor with his left hand and in the few instances he does, usually going back to his right hand. Any decent NBA assistant coach or bench scout will be able to spot this out a mile away, making him quite easy to guard at the next level if he doesn’t improve his off hand.
Friday’s game against Florida will be crucial for Johnson in terms of his NBA stock. He will most likely be guarded by one of the nation’s finest perimeter defenders, the super long Corey Brewer. It will be interesting to see how he bodes against the 6’9 Brewer, with strong performance against the Gator junior being just what Johnson might need to boost his NBA draft stock. Right now he looks like an excellent second round prospect for this June’s draft, but a strong NCAA tournament showing could surely allow him to find himself landed somewhere in the late first round.
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NCAA Weekly Performers-- 3/7/2007, Part One
March 7, 2007
Just by looking at his basic stats, 27 points a game on 42% shooting, as well as considering the conference he plays in, you would normally assume that Trey Johnson is a typical mid-major gunner who scores his points by dominating the ball and taking a large quantity of shots. Watching him on film, though, it’s hard not to get the impression that that’s rarely true, and if anything, out of necessity rather than the way he would really prefer to play.
Johnson is an extremely intelligent player, the type of guard who plays the game at his own speed and is rarely flustered by what defenses throw at him. He’s got a very complete offensive game at this point in time, which is almost shocking when you consider that he’s only been playing basketball competitively for three seasons now. Johnson was a baseball player for most of his life, a pitcher, and was even drafted by the Kansas City Royals. An injury forced him to switch to basketball before his sophomore year, and after one season playing at Alcorn State (where he was recruited to play baseball), he transferred back home to Jackson State.
Listed at 6-5, but probably actually closer to 6-4, Johnson doesn’t wow you initially with his physical attributes, although he does have a very strong build. His wingspan appears to be just average, and while he’s a smooth and quick athlete, he won’t be considered terribly explosive by NBA standards. What Johnson can be considered is skilled, and very smart. He makes the extra pass, plays within his team’s offense, and takes what the defense gives him. And he can also obviously score.
Creating his own shot from the triple-threat position, Johnson operates at his own speed, measuring what his options are carefully, and using a devastating jab-step combined with excellent ball-handling skills to keep his matchup guessing as to what he’ll do next. He has terrific timing and the versatility needed to deal with the wide array of gimmick defenses opposing coaches throw at him to keep the ball out of his hands at all costs.
Johnson uses his strength to get his shot off in tough situations, elevating off the floor smoothly and using his excellent body control to balance himself and finish even with multiple hands in his face. His range extends past the 3-point line, but it’s from mid-range that he really shines. Johnson can pull up off the dribble if the situation calls for it, and he’s absolutely terrific coming off curls and getting his shot off in the blink of an eye.
He can also go to the basket and finish, as evidenced by the 305 free throw attempts he’s drawn in 31 games this year. Some of that comes from the work he does with his back to the basket, where he likes to use his body to carve out space and has no problem taking contact as he makes his way up to the hoop. He can also fade away and knock down the turnaround jumper if the opportunity presents itself.
If the defense collapses, as it often does, Johnson keeps his head up and is very much capable of finding the open man, thanks to his excellent court vision. His ball-handling skills, calm demeanor and feel for the game make you wonder whether he might be able to play some backup point guard at the next level, something that we weren’t able to get a great handle on in the games we evaluated.
In the NBA, if he’s to make it, Johnson will likely be the type of player who takes what defenses give him and won’t have to be as aggressive looking for his own shot as he is in college. Not having any choice but to force the issue at times due to his role playing for Jackson State, he’s forced into taking too many difficult shots, which has really hurt his percentages from the field. Johnson seems to prefer going to his right hand more than his left at this point, so improving his versatility in this area could make him an even more dangerous player.
Defensively, it’s clear that he’s being hidden in order to stay out of foul trouble, but in the one on one possessions we did see, this doesn’t look to be a great strength of his. This is one of the things teams will look at when Johnson finishes up his season and starts hitting the pre-draft camp and workout trail. It wouldn’t surprise us one bit if he ended up landing a spot in the 2nd round, and he will have a chance to play his way into the top 30 picks if he’s able to show off his advanced skill-set in these settings.
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