Starting today, we will take a look at each scholarship player on the roster expected to be back next season. We will break down their 2015 season, and look ahead to what type of player they can be for next year's team. Up first, we will take a look at freshman guard, Cameron Johnson.
I have Stephen here to talk about all things Cameron Johnson today. Stephen is one of our main basketball writers, and he has covered both Pitt and Robert Morris this season, so give him a follow on Twitter because your basketball knowledge will grow. Cameron Johnson is one of the more intriguing players on the roster, and the lanky perimeter player from Moon showed a lot of promise before a shoulder surgery ended his freshman campaign. Here are some of the questions surrounding Cameron Johnson.
Final Stat Line (8 Games) - 4.5 Points 1.1 Rebounds. 39% Field Goal 34% Three-Point 50% Free-Throws
Best Game - 11 points in Pitt's season opener against Niagara
Worst Game - 0 points 1 rebound in 6 minutes of action in Pitt's 76-62 win over Duquesne
Stephen, what did you see from Cameron Johnson in his brief stint with the team this season? He was a lightly recruited guy that was a late bloomer, as he grew roughly six inches before his senior year of high school. Can he hang playing at Pitt and in the ACC?
When the games actually mattered, I saw a guy who floated around the perimeter and was clearly hunting for three-pointers. Granted, that's pretty much what the team needed from him, and for the most part - that's what he provided. His injury unfortunately cost him an entire season, and he wasn't able to put on any upper body strength over that time nor was he able to shoot the ball, so it was a wasted season in many respects.
I do think he can play in the ACC as a three-point specialist at the off-guard position. At 6'7" with a smooth and effortless stroke, he could easily develop into a player who you cannot leave on the perimeter. Before the growth spurt, he was a point guard and flashed that ability during the Pro-Am over the summer. Can he build on that so he has another dimension to his game is the big question.
My verdict, for now, on Johnson is that he has shown enough to make one think he has one elite skill - shooting the triple. The question is, can he do other things well enough to warrant being on the court to showcase it?
Cameron Johnson was expected by some to redshirt, do you think Durand Johnson's suspension directly affected Cameron Johnson's that? With the injury, he will likely get a medical redshirt anyway, is that a good thing for both him and the team?
Durand's injury definitely impacted Cam's status in regards to playing time. He probably doesn't see the floor nearly as much considering Durand essentially is a three-point shooter, but is more seasoned and with a few more wrinkles in his game. Also, senior guard Cameron Wright was out for those first 8 games (basically) so Johnson was needed.
The fact he may receive a medical redshirt saves a somewhat wasted season from being a complete disaster. So for Johnson, it's probably a good thing as he wasn't able to improve in any way while injured, other than studying film and observing.
The team could have perhaps used him, but I don't think he would have played much during conference play. Every opponent on the perimeter would have tried to expose him and that can hurt a young players confidence.
Do you think Johnson's injury impacted the team much? Did they miss his outside shooting presence off the bench?
I don't think his absence impacted the team because he essentially went out the same time Wright came back. The outside touch was nice, and something Wright definitely didn't have, but he was about to lose his playing time anyway.
What kind of role can we expect to see for Cameron Johnson in 2016?
I think that depends on what happens over the summer. Obviously, Johnson has to improve on all aspects of his game and add sinew-like muscle to his frame. He will probably enter the season as the fifth or sixth guard depending on where they slot Durand Johnson.
At this point, it's hard to think he'll be anything more than a situational specialist.
Finally, what elements of his game do you think he needs to improve upon for him to have success next season?
I mentioned adding strength a few times, and that's probably at the top of the list. He doesn't have the kind of frame that can add a lot of weight. But another year of adjusting to his rapid growth coupled with both lower and upper body strength will serve him well on both ends of the floor, plus it would increase his stamina.
In terms of his game, adding the ability to take one dribble inside the three-point line and connect is huge. Teams will try running him off of there and it would serve him well to add that shot. A lot of shooters add a baseline drive and floater when chased off the corners. It should't be a challenge for him.
Lastly, he needs to continue to hit triples from all over the floor. Sometimes guys work only on weaknesses. He needs to stay 'elite' from beyond the arc in order for any other improvements to tangibly matter.