ACC’s Top-100: No. 77 Alex Johnson, North Carolina State


Can a player really make a jump from Cal State Bakersfield to the ACC and be productive in only one season of eligibility? Good question. I doubt I really have the answer, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try to pull something out of my ass. Enjoy.

PLAYER: Alex Johnson
POSITION: Point Guard
TEAM: North Carolina State
YEAR: Senior (Fifth-Year)
TAPE: 5-11, 170

2010-11 STATS: 13.3 PPF, 2.7 RPG, 2.4 APG (.365/.771/.346)  – Cal State

North Carolina State fans received a offseason kick in the nuts when Ryan Harrow bolted from the program to go play for Kentucky, leaving the Wolfpack without a true point guard.

Since it was very unlikely new coach Mark Gottfried would be able to bring on a new point guard in the 2011 class, this leaves him no choice but to move shooting guard Lorenzo Brown over to the point for the upcoming season.

In reality, this was not a bad move. While Brown is a scorer first, he’s a gifted player who should have little trouble adjusting to full-time point guard role.

Of course this meant C.J. Williams would have to start at the 2-spot, which meant the only backup guards on the pine would be walk-on Jay Lewis and incoming freshman, Jaqawn Raymond…neither was a point guard.

Luckily though, the Wolfpack caught a break from out west when Cal State-Bakersfield’s junior guard, Alex Johnson, decided to transfer to Raleigh. How was Johnson able to make the transition without sitting out a year? Let me explain.

Johnson was technically a senior in college last year, but since he got a medical-redshirt his junior year (after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee), he still has one season of ball left to play. However, he graduated this spring from Cal State-Bakersfield, which gives him the Justin Watts (UNC) option.

The NCAA rule states that a player that graduates with a year of eligibility left can transfer to another school to get his masters and continue to play without sitting out a year as long as his new school offers up a masters that his current school doesn’t.

All NC State fans can say is, God bless loopholes.

Here’s the deal, I know some Wolfpack fans are excited to get Johnson. There are certainly reasons to be excited. He gives the team much-needed depth in the backfield and he gives them an experience point guard who can run the offense. In a perfect world, Johnson will be better than advertised, which means he’ll play more point guard, allowing Lorenzo Brown to play more at his natural position.

Personally, I think this is hopeful thinking.

Listen, experience can never hurt, but there still needs to be talent. First, he’s small, 5-10, barely 170 pounds and not necessarily quick (which is what you expect from a smaller guard) . On the defensive end, he’s going to get worked around by the taller, stronger point guards that this conference offers.

Second, I keep hearing the words “three-point specialist,” but I’m not sure why. Johnson has certainly proven to be a three-point shooter. He finished 24th in the nation last year in three point attempts (228 total). Yet, he only made 79 total. Of the guys who took that many threes, only two players had worse shooting percentages (.346).

As for that experience, well, he was particularly bad towards the end of his junior year. In his final fourteen games, he hit just 24-percent of his three pointers. This included an 0-7 game against Gonzaga and a stunning 3-19 game against Longwood. Seriously, if you’ve missed 10 threes in a game at some point, unless your name is Jimmer, it’s time to find something else to do.

Listen, I’m not bashing the kid. Hell, I have him ranked higher than plenty of players that I think are more talented than Johnson. Yes, he’ll look bad against better competition, yes he’ll jack up some missed threes, but overall he’s going to provide Lorenzo Brown with about a 10-15 minute break from running the show. That’s valuable right there.

If Johnson can then score a few points, hand-off a couple of assists, without turning the ball over, then the Wolfpack faithful should ecstatic.