• Keon Johnson is an explosive, competitive guard with an evolving skill level whose athleticism made him a difference maker on the defensive end during his freshman year at Tennessee. Widely regarded as one of the top-25 prospects in the high school class of 2020, Johnson was a bit of a late-bloomer who came on strong late in his career to earn back-to-back Mr. Tennessee Basketball honors at The Webb School (TN) despite losing much of his senior year to a meniscus injury. Carving out a significant role as a true freshman on a Volunteers team that ranked among the nation’s top defensive units for much of the season, the Tennessee native emerged as an X-factor for coach Rick Barnes. Averaging 11.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game, Johnson filled a complementary role in a balanced offense, but had some spectacular moments for the Volunteers in route to SEC All-Freshman Team honors.
• Listed at 6-foot-4 with an improving 184-pound frame to go along with a 6-foot-7 wingspan, Johnson may not be especially long, but he is an exceptional athlete with an impressive combination of speed and explosiveness.
• Playing an important offensive role for a Tennessee team that did not lean heavily on any one scorer and lacked a degree of spacing, Johnson did his best work attacking closeouts, but also got some opportunities to operate out of the pick and roll, run off screens, and go one-on-one in the post within the Volunteers’ sets. Finishing some plays emphatically in the open floor and attacking the rim, Johnson had some terrific moments as a slasher and showed promising vision as a passer, but has significant room to improve his shooting mechanics and grow as a decision-maker as well.
• Playing with great energy on the defensive end, Johnson emerged as a ball hawk early in the year doing a terrific job pressuring opposing guards, making plays in the passing lanes, and even rotating to block shots. He has room to get stronger, but already offers some versatility as a stopper.
• Spending time both on and off the ball in a system that relied heavily on ball and player movement, Johnson did some of his best work making reads away from the play. Scoring a tremendous 1.38 points per cut possession [80th percentile], Johnson’s recognition off the ball and explosiveness made him a target for designed lobs and drop passes alike.
• Attacking closeouts aggressively as well, Johnson scored 1.16 points per shot around the rim in the half court [55th percentile] overall as he has a tremendous first step, embraces contact, and can finish acrobatically around defenders or emphatically above the rim. Making an effort to find the open man on the move, Johnson has significant room to tighten up his handle and cut back on his turnovers in the open floor, but he nonetheless had some positive moments making things happen for himself and others off the dribble.
• While Johnson flashed some ability as a playmaker out of the pick and roll, he has significant room to evolve jump shooter. Scoring 0.63 points per dribble jump shot in the half court [27th percentile], his consistency left something to be desired as a freshman. Attempting all but a few of his pull-ups inside the arc, he showed the ability to use his quickness to get to spots and elevated over defenders, but his range and mechanics remain a work in progress. While he scored 1.05 points per catch and shoot jump shot in the half court [59th percentile] he appeared reluctant at times to step into shots on the perimeter and remains still early in his development as a floor spacer.
• Johnson proved to be a tremendous fit for the Volunteers defensively as their early success was predicated on their ability to string together stops. Possessing the quickness to guard multiple positions, staying active in the passing lanes, and making several remarkable plays protecting the rim over the course of the year, Johnson’s competitiveness and tools shined for stretches last season.
• Not immune to an occasional freshman mistake while giving up strength to opposing wings in some matchups, Johnson has some things to work on, but possesses the ingredients to grow into a versatile stopper.
— Profile by Synergy Sports