Elijah Johnson overlooked as Kansas’ best weapon

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It’s no secret that Anthony Davis and Deshaun Thomas have been killing it during the NCAA tournament. Thomas leads all players in scoring, while Davis the favorite to win MOP for the Final Four.

But they’re hardly the only ones.

This instructive post by Dan Hanner over at RealGM.com details the offensive ratings, percentage of minutes played and percentage of possessions used. Basically, who’s playing, who’s scoring well and who’s playing the largest roles.

For Kentucky, Darius Miller and Doron Lamb could stand to be more aggressive, while Jared Sullinger’s been more efficient for Kentucky while using more possessions. Louisville’s Russ Smith still isn’t scoring efficiently, but he’s somehow been better than he was during the regular season while using even more possessions. (Russ-diculous indeed.)

Then there’s Kansas guard Elijah Johnson, one of the few Jayhawks who’ve been able to score during their Final Four run. (Center Jeff Withey also deserves some kudes.)

Johnson’s boosted his scoring from 10 ppg to 13.5 ppg, his shooting percentage from 42.5 percent to 51 percent and is shooting 11 percentage points higher from beyond the arc. Considering he’s played more minutes than any other Jayhawk, he’s probably undervalued as a major factor for Saturday’s game.

“I’ve become much more mature,” he said. “I think I’ve understood how the college system works.  I understand how college basketball is supposed to be played. I think it shows in my game.”

The nice part for Kansas and coach Bill Self? He could be even better.

“I think Elijah is probably as talented or right up there as talented as any guard we’ve recruited here when you talk about explosiveness, touch, vision, being able to slide.  I mean, he has all the physical attributes, plus he’s got a great skill set,” Self said.

“He’s played great the last month for us, probably been as good a performer as we’ve had in the tournament. But, again, I think he’s still got another big step to take.”

That’s a promising sign considering Johnson will probably be the go-to guy for Kansas next season.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Utah lands top-75 center Jayce Johnson

Larry Krystkowiak
AP Photo
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Utah picked up its center of the future on Monday as four-star center Jayce Johnson pledged to the Runnin’ Utes, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. The 7-foot Johnson recently cut his list to Cal, Colorado and Utah with the possibility of reclassifying to the Class of 2015.

Regarded as the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson will look to attend Utah in December as a walk-on who will redshirt. While Johnson likely won’t play this season, he does give head coach Larry Krystkowiak another big man to use in practice to go against sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. A solid long-term prospect, Johnson has a good frame to add weight and he’s also skilled finishing with both hands. Utah now has its replacement for Poeltl if he opts to leave for the NBA after the season and he gets an extra semester to work with the program.

Johnson is coming off of his official visit to Utah this weekend as he joins junior college guard Jojo Zamora in the Class of 2016.


PHOTO: South Carolina gets new uniforms

Frank Martin
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South Carolina debuted some new uniforms early this week as the school is going with a fresh look and three color ways.

They’re also going to with the “Carolina” branding this season, but I think these new uniforms look pretty cool.