• Jalen Johnson is an athletic, chiseled forward whose defensive versatility and playmaking ability stood out for stretches before he opted out of the end of Duke’s season in the wake of a foot injury. Emerging as a top prospect early in his prep career, Johnson finished his senior year at Nicolet High School (WI) regarded as one of the top-10 prospects in the high school class of 2020. Heading to Duke to play for Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski, Johnson stuffed the stat sheet on several occasions in non-conference play averaging 11.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game through 13 appearances.
• Listed at 6’9 with a promising 210-pound frame to go along with a 6’11 wingspan, Johnson is a very good all-around athlete with the size to play both forward spots.
• The Wisconsin native a little bit of everything for a very young Blue Devils team as a freshman. Playing a fair amount of point guard at the prep level, he flashed the ability to create for himself and others getting downhill off the dribble sliding between frontcourt positions. Sparking the break, driving and kicking, finishing well around the rim, and making set shots at a serviceable clip despite being relatively early in his development as a jump shooter, Johnson displayed intriguing versatility, but battled issues with turnovers and bouts of inconsistency.
• Similarly flashing the ability to guard multiple positions, get in the passing lanes, and help protect the rim, Johnson impacted the game on the defensive end in spurts but was more physical and engaged sometimes than others. While he has significant room to mature as a defender, his tools give him appealing versatility—especially as his frame matures.
• One of the more unique players in college basketball, Johnson handled the ball quite a bit as a freshman, even if he started many sets under the rim as well. Generating nearly a quarter of his opportunities in transition scoring 1.00 points per transition possession [47th percentile], he showed the ability to grab and go off the glass, finish emphatically filling lanes, and find the open man in space. Scoring more consistently with his left hand some games than others, Johnson has room to become more reliable in that regard and more savvy using his tools to get to the line.
• In the half court, Johnson did some of his best work at the rim. Averaging 1.55 points per cut possession [94th percentile] and 1.39 points per shot around the rim in the half court [87th percentile] overall, his ability to get downhill was a plus at times, but his timing as a cutter and consistency finishing when operating off the ball drove his efficiency. Finding the open man zipping passes past defenders but making some avoidable mistakes as a facilitator, Johnson had some ups and downs looking to create off the bounce.
• Averaging 1.65 points per catch and shoot jump shot in the half court [99th percentile] on limited attempts, Johnson is still ironing out his shooting mechanics and did not show much in the way of pull-up and free throw shooting ability.
• Playing only 171 minutes as a freshman, Johnson had some quiet nights but his talent was apparent in limited action.
• With the quickness to get in the passing lanes and the athleticism and size to help chip in around the rim, Johnson had some strong moments making plays on the defensive end. Rebounding the ball pretty prolifically in limited action, he stuffed the stat sheet for stretches as a freshman.
• While Johnson was more energetic sometimes than others last season, he has the tools to be a versatile defensive player.
— Profile by Synergy Sports