NBA talk getting louder for Nick Johnson
Arizona junior shooting guard Nick Johnson may have played his last home game in McKale Center on Sunday night.
When asked about the possibility, Johnson said that he’s not thinking about that right now. He said that it’s too far in the future and that currently, he’s only focusing on his current team’s goal of winning the 2014 NCAA National Championship.
“I really believe that we have the best fans in the country; they support you night in and night out,” Johnson said. “[Arizona] has been a great experience for me, and McKale has been really good to me in my years here.”
This year, Johnson has helped carry the No. 3 Wildcats to a Pac-12 Conference title and No. 1 RPI ranking. He is currently under consideration for the Pac-12 Player of the Year and Oscar Robertson trophy award. He also stands as one of 10 Naismith trophy semi-finalists.
Nick Johnson (13) holds the PAC 12 championship trophy after Arizona's 79-66 victory over Stanford in McKale Center on Sunday.
“To me, I would think Nick Johnson would be the leading candidate to be the Pac-12 Player of the Year,” Miller said. “Being very realistic and respective towards him, he has had a phenomenal season. What he does on defense; he’s one of the best defensive guards in college basketball.”
Miller went on to say that from an offensive perspective, his impact is irreplaceable. Johnson is the team’s leading scorer and ever since Brandon Ashley’s foot injury, he’s played three different positions for the Wildcats and guarded a variety of different opponents.
Miller also praised Johnson’s basketball intelligence, calling him one of the team’s coaches on the court. Even when Johnson is on the bench he can been seen coaching the players on the court.
“I think it’s just growth and maturity,” Miller said “One of the things that has really changed with Nick’s game is he has the ability to score in the middle.”
Miller explained Johnson’s growth as once being a slasher and occasional 3-point shooter.
“Now, he almost has everything covered,” Miller said. “He has a floater, runner, pull up; he’s very good from two, is a better 3-point shooter and is very talented from the basket. From an offensive perspective, he’s added something to what he does every year.”
Despite all the positive news, Miller doesn’t want to see any of his players leave for the NBA draft if they aren’t going to be a first round pick.
On Sunday, Miller brought up former Wildcat and current Indiana Pacer Solomon Hill, who returned to Tucson for his senior season in 2012 and saw his draft stock rise.
“The Pacers are invested in Solomon,” Miller said. “He’s set for at least 10 years.”
Miller said once the season ends he will help his players make the most informed decision they can make. But until the games are over the best thing he said the players can do is win and show a competitive nature.
“Johnson really had an outstanding year and really deserved in my mind to be Pac-12 Player of the Year,” Miller said. “More than anything, he is the natural leader of our team.”
—Follow Evan Rosenfeld @EvanRosenfeld17