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Why 2023 point guard London Johnson would be a huge get for Virginia: Film breakdown

The 2023 point guard can do it all and could prove to be a tremendous addition on both ends of the floor.

Florida State v Virginia Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

Despite having a scheduled commitment announcement time this past Friday, the Virginia Cavaliers’ top target of the 2023 class London Johnson has delayed his announcement until April 14th. It had been expected that Johnson would choose Virginia. Yet, he now appears to be listening to a few final pitches from a few schools of his final six including North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, and USC along with UVA.

The ‘Hoos are still the favorites. So, while we wait for Johnson to come to his final decision, it’s worth diving into what would make him such a fantastic get for Virginia and Tony Bennett. He’s ranked 24th by 247’s composite rankings and would be Bennett’s highest rated recruit yet. But, that doesn’t tell the whole story.

Scouting report and film breakdown

As a player, Johnson is the epitome of a do-it-all point guard. Offensively, he can score at all three levels with ease as he has a smooth jump shot, is comfortable making plays off the bounce, and can finish cleanly at the rim thanks to his size, length, and comfort using either hand.

First off, Johnson is a player who is willing and ready to pull from deep on the catch. On either of these two plays he catches the ball as it’s swung around the perimeter and confidently steps into a three-ball.

Next up, see here as Johnson catches the ball from beyond the three-point line, pump fakes to utilize his threat as a three-point shooter, and then takes one dribble into a pull-up jumper as he sees the help approaching. He’s completely under control and obviously comfortable playing as an off-ball guard.

Admittedly, his shot could use some tweaking to make it a tad quicker and limit some of the additional motion that he has going across his face. That said, he’s a more than capable shooter from the outside and off the dribble in the midrange so there’s no need to fix what ain’t broke.

On this following play, Johnson displays his ability to get to the rim. He uses a ball screen before using a change of speed and his long strides to create separation and then impressively finishing through contact.

Johnson is also adept as a cutter and at exploiting defenders who try to over-play him on the perimeter. On this possession, Johnson and his teammate perfectly execute a give-and-go as Johnson takes advantage of length and finishes calmly with his off-hand at the rim.

Then, as he pops onto the perimeter here, Johnson baits his defender before back-cutting, catching the ball, moving to space, and hitting a fall-away jumper. This displays just how in-control Johnson is on offense. He takes what the defense gives him yet is always a threat to exploit any small mistake by his opponent.

Additionally, Johnson is very quick and shifty with explosive changes of speed and direction. He’s deadly in transition and when going downhill as he has the court vision to see passing lanes before they develop. He can still develop as a kick-out passer when he collapses defenses, but that will come in time against more sophisticated defenses.

He shows off that change of speed and ability in transition here as he sprints down the court, crossing back-and-forth to force his defender to switch his hips, slowing up to force a hesitation, then violently accelerating into the paint, drawing help, and dishing to his open teammate.

In transition again, Johnson sees two of his opponents get tangled up while getting back and he takes advantage. He accelerates at half court and is quick enough that the help defense is far too late to stop him.

On this play note how Johnson’s head is immediately up when he gets the ball in the backcourt. He makes a laser pass to his teammate cutting in transition. Obviously AAU defense isn’t at the same level of Division 1 basketball. But it would be interesting to see if Bennett would allow Johnson to push some in transition should the Georgia native join the Wahoos.

Defensively, his length, activeness, and quickness mean he’s a prototype defender for Tony Bennett.

Here we see Johnson’s team playing deny defense and specifically him using his length to bait a pass and then jump into the passing lane to tip and steal the ball.

Again, Johnson’s potential as a pure athlete is special. This chase down block against the backboard makes that quite obvious.

Absolutely, he’ll have to add bulk to his frame once he gets to college as he’s still slim. Nonetheless, the tools are all there for Johnson to be an elite defender in the pack-line system.

All in all, there’s no telling where Johnson’s ceiling as a player in college is. He’s supremely talented and has the basketball mind to back it up. If making a UVA comp, I’d wager he’s something similar to Ty Jerome in Reece Beekman’s body plus an inch or two of height.

If UVA is his choice come the 14th, Tony Bennett and the Wahoos will be set up incredibly well with the star-studded 2022 class and Johnson filling in the final hole at point guard in the following class. There may be an odd air of negativity surrounding the program at the moment, but a Johnson commitment would change that in a heartbeat.