Mapping Out the Freshman Role for K.D. Johnson
About a month ago, Georgia football's 2020 class made it to campus to begin workouts ahead of fall camp. Now, Georgia's basketball class has started to sprinkle on to campus as well.
While it doesn't look like there is an official return timeline yet for the Georgia basketball program, it does look like the program will be moving closer to beginning off-season workouts and practices. Kadarius "K.D." Johnson moved into UGA this past Sunday, per his mother's twitter.
Another new enrollee in grad-transfer Justin Kier has also mentioned his upcoming move-in date via his Instagram story.
K.D. Johnson was the Bulldogs lone Top-100 recruit in the 2020 class, which finished 32nd-best nationally on the 247sports composite ranking system. With that being said, Johnson will likely have the most expectations out of this class from the jump. So, how can he live up to that hype, and what will his role be like as a true freshman?
Prior to moves made in the transfer portal, it looked like Johnson was a mere lock to start alongside Sahvir Wheeler from game one. But, Tom Crean went out and nabbed some veteran leadership in a pair of graduate transfer guards, Justin Kier and Andrew Garcia. Not to mention, the Bulldogs already have an experienced guard in Tye Fagan, who is looking to take on a bigger role in year three.
To mention the obvious, having a handful of experienced guards will fast-forward Johnson's development at Georgia. But, will having them around limit Johnson's playing time? Not at all.
The worst-case scenario is Johnson becomes one of the first players off the bench for the Bulldogs. With the Georgia staff preferring to play a fast-paced style of game, they'll need multiple guards to come off of the bench and play a solid amount of minutes.
The best-case scenario is Johnson has a Sahvir Wheeler-like impact and carves out a starting role midway into the season. Of course, you definitely have to adjust the lineup from game to game based on the opponent, but Crean's staff often had three guards in the starting line up just a season ago. For instances where Georgia recognizes an opponent that outmatches the team size-wise, the staff could decide to counter that with speed, which could mean a starting duo of Wheeler and Johnson.
Watch any film of the Decatur-native, and the first thing you'll notice is his energy. Johnson is a hustler and often makes plays you don't normally see from the point guard position, such as blocking a shot off of the backboard. Whether he's doing that, getting steals, or just simply locking down the ball handler with his on-ball defense, he's always giving 100% effort. Those defensive skills translate to one of his biggest strengths on offense: forcing himself into the lane and finishing over contact.
Johnson might not be the instant-star level player that Anthony Edwards was, but he is still way too talented to not have a big role for the Bulldogs this season. And while size won't be a strength for him at the next level, there's still a good chance he'll earn his way into the NBA at some point in his career.
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