Nick Johnson was one of the first players Sean Miller recruited to Arizona so it's no surprise that going into his sophomore year, Johnson is primed to be a significant contributor for the Wildcats.
While Johnson started off his freshman campaign with success, he hit the proverbial freshman wall and did not record double digit scoring in 11 of his last 15 games. This year, however, Johnson's offense will be relied upon heavily.
After shooting just 37.2% from the field and 33.1% from the arc last year, Johnson will need to improve his efficiency as his minutes increase. Look for those percentages to go up considerably, while Johnson's 67.9% from the free throw line will surely increase as well.
Expect the improvement to be a result of easier shots. With talented post players manning the paint, and shooters behind the arc, Johnson will have space to attack the basket. Johnson's ability to elevate and draw fouls at the rim should be one of his biggest strengths this year. And if Johnson can crash the offensive boards, he will be able to score on easy outbacks.
Though guard Josiah Turner left the team in April, Johnson will still have a former Oakland Soldier AAU teammate on the squad in freshman forward Brandon Ashley.
"It's great to have Brandon on the team," Johnson said. "We've played a lot together in the past so we know each other's games well. There's a lot of love for the Oakland Soldiers here."
Perhaps one of the best things for Nick Johnson's development was the team's summer trip to the Bahamas. The trip gave the team extra practice sessions, but also an opportunity to get some live game action.
"The Bahamas trip was amazing," Johnson said. "We got a lot of extra work in as a team so that gives us an advantage going into the season."
Johnson showed an improved ability to distribute the ball during the Bahamas trip, which raises the question of whether or not he will see time at the point guard position. With Mark Lyons and Jordin Mayes figuring to get minutes at lead guard, it seems that Johnson's opportunity may be limited. But he has shown the ability to fill in when needed.
"Last year he played point guard every single day in practice and we called him into doing that in a game setting. For his own growth and for our team, he will always be getting reps at that position," Miller said.
Known for his highlight reel dunks, Johnson is a virtual guarantee to dazzle McKale crowds with a few Sportscenter-worthy jams in 2012-13.
"I love to dunk and get the crowd excited," Johnson said,"That's just part of my game."