2014-2015 Player Profile: Robert Johnson

  • 10/08/2014 9:54 am in

With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’re taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster this month. Today, we continue our look at Indiana’s roster with Robert Johnson.

Robert Johnson’s commitment to Indiana in September of 2013 was a stabilizer for the program’s class of 2014 recruiting efforts. After James Blackmon Jr. opted to reopen his recruitment a little more than a month before, the Hoosiers entered last fall without a commitment.

Johnson was a player the Hoosier staff scouted heavily in the summer and his strong play with the Boo Williams Nike Elite Youth Basketball League team boosted his national profile significantly. In order to land Johnson, Indiana had to go into Richmond, Virginia and beat out the likes of North Carolina, Virginia and Florida State, which was no easy task.

When it came time for Johnson to make his announcement, most had him pegged for North Carolina, which made his decision to don the cream and crimson a major recruiting coup for the program.

So why was Indiana the right place for Johnson? Simply put, he felt like he was really needed in Bloomington.

“The biggest thing I think was that every time I talked to coach (Tom) Crean, he always talked about not how much he wanted me, but how much that they really, really needed me,” Johnson explained. “I think there’s a difference between when somebody wants you and somebody really, really needs you because then they’re going to do everything in your best interest to make sure you get better because it not only is benefitting you, it is benefitting them also and benefitting the team.”

As Johnson prepares for his first collegiate season, he’s expected to be a major part of Indiana’s quest to return to the NCAA tournament. On IU’s five-game tour of Canada, he played significant minutes and contributed in a variety of areas. At 6-foot-3 and and 195 pounds, Johnson has a college ready body and it’s easy to see that he’s been well coached in both high school and AAU.

While he struggled a bit with his shooting in Montreal, he still put together an impressive stat line on the trip: 9.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.2 steals in 24 minutes per game.

Given the fact that Indiana is going to need its guards to rebound, his proficiency in that area is something that could make him a more attractive option than Nick Zeisloft or Stanford Robinson, the two players he’ll be battling for a spot in the starting lineup. Johnson is also probably the best ball handler among that trio and it’s not out of the question that he’ll play spot minutes at the point guard when Yogi Ferrell needs a break or if Crean wants to move Ferrell off the ball for stretches.

Crean has talked about the versatility he expects this Indiana team to have on the perimeter and Johnson, along with fellow freshman James Blackmon Jr., are big reasons for that optimism.

“They’re fully capable of being guys who can do numerous things for us and will be known for a lot more than just shooting, driving, offense, things of that nature,” Crean said. “No question about it.”

Bottom line: While Blackmon Jr. gets the majority of the headlines and notoriety when it comes to discussing IU’s freshman class (and deservedly so), Johnson will be a significant contributor from day one. He’s a year older than most freshman and is also more physically mature than most newcomers, which should allow him to make an easier transition to the college game. Much like Blackmon Jr., he doesn’t get rattled easily, makes the game easier for his teammates and is someone who will develop into a leader in the locker room. Johnson’s shooting woes in Canada shouldn’t be a major concern as his track record suggests he’ll be a force on the perimeter.

Quotable: “I think one of the reasons he chose Indiana was because his skill set translated best there to getting on the court. Not just for playing time, because he could have gone anywhere and gotten playing time. But he fills a need. Him and James (Blackmon Jr.) fill a need.” – Johnson’s high school coach, Ryan Marable.

Previous: James Blackmon Jr., Max Hoetzel

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  • HoosierGrampy

    Which “proves” exactly nothing.

  • HoosierGrampy

    And I bet you’re smart enough to specifically recall the names dates and times of everyone who posted that. HA HA.

  • HoosierGrampy

    Fully agree! See anything wrong with this scenario: 1. TC unloads a couple reasonably talented players (Remy & Mo) 2) Looks at the roster he created and sees problems in the backcourt w/respect to the absence of shooters he just had walk from the program. 3) Gets a Pac-10 player with a skill set not totally compatible with “The Plan” 4) Takes about 3 games in the B1G for opponents to see that IU has talent–some on the floor, some on the bench–but they don’t play smart or well together. 5) Fans see a couple shiny games but the season heads South. 6) A lack of back court shooters, chemistry, transfers, ad infinitum are offered as reasons why things didn’t work out better. TC didn’t inherit those circumstances–he created them or allowed them to become issues. Leaders lead…

  • HoosierGrampy

    Tsk. Tsk. You used that word “NEVER” again! And you seem to like using the word “logic”. Question: Who said we should never go after any more of them? Clue: YOU. Getting Gordon was an experiment which didn’t work well. Letting him log serious minutes at the expense of having Stan or Colin get court time…oh, we’ve heard that argument about 1000 times also. Right?.
    Not an angry elf, just a little frustrated because I seem to have misplaced my Crimson & Cream pom poms. May I borrow yours?

  • HoosierGrampy

    I remain more interested in seeing who will be on the floor at crunch time this season. There might be situations in which 3 guards are called for to score points. Maybe 2 guards at other times to shut down “activity” in the front court. The coaching challenges are certainly coming. The big unknown is how and with whom will TC respond to them.

  • Bryce Kepner

    Im not rationalizing anything. But its exactly what you said, the guys who aren’t on the team this year are the were the loafers, hence why they didn’t play. I think no matter what Crean does, there will always be people who will complain. If he would’ve let the players do whatever they wanted (loaf in practice, not go to class, etc) and he still played them. then people would say that Crean has no control and is a doormat. He sits those players and people call him a “chicken”. Its comical, some of these “fans” and their “expertise”

  • Bryce Kepner

    No you are right, I just think it gets a little old sometimes that no matter what people have negative things to say. Nothing against you or anyone else. People on this site have no problem calling out peoples opinion buts don’t like theirs to get called out. I didn’t mean to offend you, sorry if I did. I honestly wasn’t trying to insult you other anything. But caution that you don’t want eople calling you out but you seem to have no problem calling people who don’t post an opinion that isn’t in line with yours a “narrow-minded pom pom waiver”. Your asking for respect for your opinion but not giving respect….

  • Bryce Kepner

    I used used never because you mentioned that Zeisloft shouldn’t get significant minutes infront of any any underclassman because the experiment with Gordon didn’t work. I followed that to mean that you were trying to say that because Gordon didn’t work out, we should move away from using grad transfers. Again sorry if you took offense.

  • Bryce Kepner

    Proves that a few of the teams we played are fairly decent teams

  • Bryce Kepner

    Okay you call me out for making things to personal and whatnot and what are you doing now?

  • SCHoosier

    If Stan were Quinn we wouldn’t be having this exchange:) We both want the same thing here.just saaying that Nick will get some serious minutes…have always assumed Stan would.

  • HoosierGrampy

    Once again you failed to address the initial question. Let me word it a little differently: How would you justify giving a “great in practice” player game time when his presence on the court is hindering the team because he can’t shoot, set a screen, rebound, etc? And I said I can recall a lot of players who didn’t hustle back, but did not make specific reference to any year group.

  • Bryce Kepner

    I don’t know how you would justify it and I don’t have to because I’m not the coach. But take Jeff Howard for example. I didn’t really like it that he got so much playing time but if he was working harder than anyone else to get on the floor, then so be it. He couldn’t shoot but he could set a screen, rebound, and defend decently

  • IUMIKE1

    Interesting facts, thanks for doing the research. I knew that they weren’t as bad as HG was saying but I didn’t know that they ranked that high either.

  • IUMIKE1

    HoosierGrampy finding the happy middle ground. lol

  • IUMIKE1

    For the record, and at this particular time, I agree with “your opinion”. IF anyone sees something close to meaningful minutes out of those four I’d have to guess it would be Max.

  • b_side

    Yep, with you on that.

  • IUMIKE1

    A wise man (my dad) once said, “if foresight was as good as hindsight we’d all be better off by a damn sight ” lol always thought that was a good one to remember.

  • IUMIKE1

    Think it may also be a, “do a heat check and see if someone in particular is hot each game”, type of thing unless one of them really starts to stand out above the other two.

  • IUMIKE1

    Agree, would tend to think that who is in towards and at the end of games, especially the close ones, is going to be the best barometer of what Crean thinks about each player.

  • HoosierGrampy

    For someone who relies upon keen inductive and deductive reasoning skills to compliment his insightful, logical comments, your saying that “I don’t have to (justify) because I’m not the coach” is a “mega cop out”. Is that truly the best you got to offer? He played decently??? TC’s greatest challenge may be to find someone to play 128 minutes this year who will be able to equal or exceed the 20 points, 20 boards, 2 blocks, 2 steals and 5 assists Howard produced last year. Finding someone who can commit 18 PFs over that same time span is very doable, though.
    At the other extreme sits 1each Allen Iverson who abhorred practices and either skipped them entirely, was late or gave maybe 25% effort in the drills. (Granted he was a professional during these times–really do not recall how he acted at Georgetown.) If you were the coach and stuck with the mindset of giving those who played hard in practice premium game minutes, you telling me you’d sit Iverson and play someone else? I’d advise you to update your resume STAT.

  • HoosierGrampy

    Simply giving back so you may experience some of the same…

  • HoosierGrampy

    Perhaps the oft-used statement in the B1G that “On any given night, any team can beat any other team” could apply. Happens in conference play every season…except in ’75 and ’76.

  • AnonymousDave

    In reference to another comment I made hindsight is always 20/20 and simply put I’d rather him try to win games last year then building for the next. If you think Gordon was added for the sole purpose of getting a good footing with his brother and not for a lack of scoring you are ridiculous. Was it a possible incentive? No doubt but we are Indiana, we already had a good footing with him and Eron isn’t exactly the next big thing. He isn’t even a five star. If he wasn’t from Indiana I don’t even know if TC would be recruiting him. Neither Stan nor Evan were consistent and I can’t blame him giving the nod to the experienced kid who has proven himself to be a valuable scorer elsewhere in hopes he’d break out of a “slump.” Either way Stan wasn’t exactly starving for minutes, if he was he would have transferred. And Hartman? Don’t make me laugh. At best he has a great IQ and understands spacing, he wasn’t ready to help this team last year in the slightest. I think we all know Hanner was committed last year and rewarding him for that would have been terrible for the team.

    Finally Crean is either a great talent evaluator or a great developer of it, you can’t say neither. He has taken two unknowns (Oladipo and Wade) and made them into NBA superstars. One is destined already for the hall of fame. That rarely happens to a coach once, let alone twice in a decade. I personally think both. Regardless he made some mistakes last year no doubt, but there isn’t a flawless coach in the world, and I’m ready for this year. Whoever bought into our preseason ranking last year knows nothing about basketball. I was surprised we did as well as we did.

  • AnonymousDave

    Hanner wasn’t* commited

  • HoosierGrampy

    I may be the one is so blind that he cannot see, but I don’t recall taking offense at being called out for a post. I am not “offended” by people like you who take partial comments out of context and then present a scenario or argument which cannot help but reinforce their own point. Same thing applies to those who presume they know what I was “trying to say”. I do take exception to those “twists”, but try to be respectful in so doing. However, I don’t always manage to stay within the bounds of propriety, and for that, I can only apologize and try harder next time.

    No where did I EVER say that Zeisloft should not get serious minutes because the Gordon experiment went South. Nor did I EVER say that IU should move away from considering the recruitment/use of grad transfers. I responded to those who pumped up NZ’s “leadership skills” and his Canadian performances by saying that he played in mid-major D1 competition. The B1G plays a different game. While he can knock down the “3”, there are 5 other ballers on the roster who are at least equal to or better shooters than him. I stated that I preferred to take a wait and see approach with him…like the Man from Missouri (Show Me).
    There is a level of potential, talent, player optimism, motivation, and, dare we say chemistry(?) which hasn’t been seen in B’town for quite some time. It is my fervent hope that TC doesn’t squander the opportunity to mold & develop another team he has built. I remain cautiously excited to see what TC can/will do with these players!

  • Bryce Kepner

    Ok since you replied to like 6 of my comments Ill just comment back on here. You can stop replying to all of them.
    Yesterday I apologized if I had been out of line on any of your posts. I am human , I make mistakes and I misread somethings that people write. I’m not the first one on here to do so and probably not the last. I apologized yesterday but didn’t seem to be enough for you. Oh well, did my part. In the end I’m just here to talk about my favorite basketball team with other fans. Sometimes our own opinions and biases get in our way. Don’t really have anything else to say in response to any of your comments on my posts.

  • HoosierGrampy

    Appreciate you sharing your thoughts. Made some excellent points. No doubt that TC hit a home run with Oladipo. However, TC cannot be given total credit for Wade’s recruitment. Despite a stellar Senior year at Richards HS in Oak Lawn, only DePaul, Illinois State and Marquette offered him. Fact is, EVERY one of the D1 “Big Boys” avoided him due to known academic deficiencies. Those suspicions/fears were born out when he was sidelined via Prop 48 for his Freshman year. Wade prospered in TC’s program, but you cannot give him credit for “discovering” DW. He was a very well-known commodity–with a little baggage which he successfully overcame through a lot of hard work on his own. Kudos for that.
    Why Gordon was recruited is up for grabs…little brother may not be the next great thing, but he just finished his Sophomore year, and those wizards & analysts often rely solely upon precision guesswork ( and Summer camp performances) when they try to rank outside the top 10-15 players nationwide. Jaylen Fisher, Braxton Blackwell, Seventh Woods, Justin Jackson and TJ Leaf have been all over the board. TC may not push hard for him, but EG already has offers from Painter, Miles and ASU, plus “interest” from Beilein and Coaches K and Cal. I wouldn’t suggest IU withdraw its offer just yet.
    Finally, I don’t have insight to why Gordon or any of the others who are no longer around got minutes in lieu of others. The best I can offer is a guesstimation. Why he kept relying upon the same players time after time while perhaps expecting or anticipating different results is a moot point at this juncture. Did he learn anything from doing that or will he hit the “repeat” button again? Even if we were privy to his thought process at that time, it ain’t gonna change the numbers; 17-15 will remain the best he could get out of the 2013 team. I hope this year’s team can play to their collective level of talent. November 14th is not that far away…

  • HoosierGrampy

    Dave, point taken…there was a time in 1981 when Landon Turner confirmed that he wasn’t “committed” but his pesky coach found a way to light the fire; end result = All-American and National Championship.

  • HoosierGrampy

    My timing may be off, but I think I only responded to your comments as they were posted…nothing more, nothing less. I truly enjoy reading the diverse range of comments posted here. More than a few of your posts reflect knowledge about the game, IU and its traditions which the average fan of another college team probably cannot fathom or duplicate.
    As a positive from all our banter, I think I now have a better understanding of where you’re coming with your posts. Apology accepted but don’t believe that it is/was necessary–we’re only human and, as you said, sometimes we make mistakes. I’ve probably exceeded the quota for 1 man in 1 lifetime. I encourage you to stay active on this site…I’ll exercise restraint when posting. In the end I think we all want to be proud of the team which calls Assembly Hall their home. Be well & Go IU!

  • HoosierGrampy

    That was uncalled for.. tell me again how well that “restraint of tongue and pen” concept is working for you???

  • fourputtsforsnowman

    If Yogi plays 35 mpg it will be interesting to see how the other minutes are passed around.

  • fourputtsforsnowman

    yes, and if it is known within the team that Yogi is going pro should IU then sit Yogi more and develop the obviously talented freshmen, perhaps as much or more for next year than this year.

  • fourputtsforsnowman

    …he’d be a draw overseas. The D league would be better than a senior year at IU (purely from his development perspective)

  • fourputtsforsnowman

    If yogi does play 35 mpg, will yogi be directing everyone like last year or do you think JBJ, TW, RJ, perhaps others “take over” some of the ball handling and team leadership that yogi seems to think is now 100% his?

  • fourputtsforsnowman

    D league or overseas

  • AnonymousDave

    Maybe that will be the end result for Hanner? Probably not that good, but I do think Crean is trying his hardest to motivate the kid and we all know the kid has more to offer than he has shown. Patience friend.

  • AnonymousDave

    I’m prepared to give Crean a little more credit in Wade’s recruitment and development than you. He must’ve seen something that made him comfortable that Wade was going to overcome his academic woes. Crean also wasn’t afraid to bench his future star, and I think there is a bigger reason than Wade just liking Crean that keeps Wade coming back for advice and such every summer. Of course then you can look at Hollowell’s recruitment and development… The big knock on him was his attitude coming out of high school and what do ya know? That hurt me to watch. Literally that hurt me. I made a slap bet with my older brother he was going to have a breakout year last year (breakout defined as 10 ppg) after riding the pony his freshmen year. I am 5 ft 10 and weighed a buck 50 at the time and he has a Marshawn Lynch build. I couldn’t lay on the left side of my face for a week lol.

  • HoosierGrampy

    If he grows into the mold of Joe Dumars, we’ll be able to witness something really special…perhaps not seen since the days of a young Chicago baller who wore #11…

  • HoosierGrampy

    I believe that Hanner is going to have a great year for us. So sure that I’d be willing to make a slap bet with your older brother — if you’ll stand in as my proxy. Game on????

  • HoosierGrampy

    Other determining factors in the “Who gets minutes and how many” game will be the progress and adjustments made by each of the new AND returning players. I like the guys who “pencil in” projected starting lineups…I hope those pencils have big erasers on them because I think we’re going to see a lot of experimenting and changes throughout the year.

  • CreanFaithful

    IU is going to be a defensive nightmare for opposing teams. Yogi will handle the majority of the reps, but absolutely the three you mentioned and I’ll add Stan will be initiating offense as well. Very tough to game plan for. Which is why I anticipate a lot of zone.

  • AnonymousDave

    Unfortunately we are both high on Hanner this year for some reason which sucks because I’m in need of payback lol

  • HoosierGrampy

    For some reason which I cannot quit put my finger on, I think there are going to be a lot of surprises coming from the guys on this year’s roster. I’d put money on HMP’s being one of them on the + side of the ledger; however, I also recall something about a fool and his money….:)

  • AnonymousDave

    Oh yea more than anything I’m liking the attitude of this team from what I’m hearing through twitter posts (or lack of with Yogi, Stan, an Co) and here on IH. Everyone knows you can have all the talent in the world but if you don’t possess work ethic and a good attitude you’re doomed.