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In a recent BleacherReport.com article, I listed Arizona junior guard Nick Johnson as the No. 1 subplot for the Wildcats’ season. Specifically, Johnson has it in him to be one of the best players in the conference because he is already the best athlete.
He is All-Pac-12 caliber. As a junior, he should be ready to show that.
The 6’3″, 200-pound Johnson plays three inches taller because of his leaping ability that is reminiscent of his father, former Arizona State guard Joey Johnson. The elder Johnson had a 52-inch vertical leap. Nick Johnson has measured at a 39-inch leap.
Johnson’s side-to-side mobility also makes him a dangerous defender. The presence of T.J. McConnell and Johnson should limit the passing lanes for opponents.
What will make Johnson an all-conference selection is his ability to hit the perimeter jumper and score off penetration, either by converting the basket or drawing fouls and making his free-throw attempts.
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Arizona's human pogo stick, Nick Johnson, making sure defense is at forefront of his game this season. http://t.co/bGvil6cB2p
— Steve Rivera (@SteveRivera95) October 24, 2013
Johnson needs to build on these numbers from last season: 44.8 field-goal shooting, 39.3 percent shooting from three-point range, 68 steals and a scoring average of 11.5 points a game.
His assist total (112 compared to 66 turnovers) was impressive.
Despite a credible season, Johnson was nowhere to be found on the all-conference lists. He was an honorable mention choice for the all-defense team.
Johnson knows he can do better than that. If he earns All-Pac-12 status this season, the Wildcats will be more complete and a realistic contender for a national championship.
Another former No. 13 guard — Nic Wise — earned All-Pac-10 status as a senior in 2009-10. That was a storybook way to end a turbulent UA career in which Wise played for four different coaches — Lute Olson, Kevin O’Neill, Russ Pennell and Sean Miller.
Wise has endured another unstable path professionally overseas. He is now in Turkey, playing for his fifth professional team in the last three years. He has also played in Germany, France, Italy and Poland.
He is one of 22 former Wildcats who played mostly in foreign lands professionally in the last two years.
Two players from last year’s Sweet 16 team — Mark Lyons and Kevin Parrom — join the group this season. Lyons is in France and Parrom is embarking on his pro career in Ukraine. Parrom will reunite with former UA teammate Kyryl Natyazhko, who is in his second season of pro ball in his native Ukraine.
Another former UA player recruited by Miller — forward Jesse Perry — moves from Lebanon to Lithuania this season.
Countdown to Tip-off Blogs:
— No. 14 for Arizona Wildcats includes two pivotal players who revived program
— No. 15 embodies grit, determination and intelligence for Arizona Wildcats
— Ranking Arizona Wildcats’ top Sweet 16 victories
— Arizona Wildcats guard T.J. McConnell on Bob Cousy Award Watch List
— ASU’s Jahii Carson Arizona Wildcats’ top opposing player this season
— Mike Bibby, Tedy Bruschi spend day with Arizona Wildcats
— Arizona Wildcats guard Jordin Mayes sets sight on successful senior season with 20-20 vision
— Unsung players wore No. 21 proudly for Arizona Wildcats
— Jason Gardner’s No. 22 is retired but Coniel Norman and Ray Owes also wore number admirably for Arizona Wildcats
— Arizona Wildcats No. 23 players historic in different ways
— No. 24 in Arizona Wildcats history one for the statistical record books
— Steeeeeeeeve Kerrrrrrrr!!!!
— A look at the greatest takeaways from Arizona Wildcats’ Red-Blue Scrimmage
— A look at past, future today with Arizona Wildcats’ Red-Blue Scrimmage
— Arizona Wildcats’ Aaron Gordon vying to become third freshman to win Pac-12 player of year
— Ernie McCray did more than score for Arizona Wildcats
— Arizona Wildcats’ No. 31 not retired with Jason Terry’s name but should be
— No. 32 most storied jersey number in Arizona Wildcats history
— No. 33 in Arizona Wildcats history symbolic of hard work ethic, ideal role players
— Simon says: No. 34 special with two of Arizona Wildcats’ greatest wearing jersey number
— If Arizona Wildcats center Kaleb Tarczewski has field-goal percentage like Jud Buechler, UA will be fine
— Arizona Wildcats legend Sean Elliott scored career-high 36 points opposing Sean Miller
— Nick Johnson looks to improve perimeter shooting, limit turnovers
— Jordin Mayes hoping to return to shooting form earlier in Arizona Wildcats career
— 39 days and counting toward Arizona Wildcats’ season
— Joe Skaisgir best Arizona Wildcats basketball player you’ve never heard of
— Nick Johnson looks to improve FG percentage while Arizona Wildcats limit opponents
— Chris Mills, A.J. Bramlett reached Arizona Wildcats stardom via different paths, roles
— Jordan Hill climbed hill for notoriety while Ed Nymeyer lived up to hype with Arizona Wildcats
— Fantastic Four who wore No. 44: Jersey special for Arizona Wildcats program
— Two of Arizona Wildcats’ best centers — Sean Rooks and Channing Frye — donned No. 45
— Arizona Wildcats great Ernie McCray reminisces about his record-setting 46-point performance
— Arizona Wildcats star recruit should not be compared to Blake Griffin
— Arizona Wildcats coach Sean Miller on fast track to Pac-12 success
— Things you may not know about Arizona Wildcats point guard T.J. McConnell
— Arizona Wildcats will benefit from presence of Joseph Blair in practice
— Arizona Wildcats preparing for what could be memorable 2013-14 season