Scouting Report – Brice Johnson

Feb 6, 2016; South Bend, IN, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward Brice Johnson (11) grabs a rebound between Notre Dame Fighting Irish forward Zach Auguste (30) and forward Austin Torres (1) in the first half at the Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame won 80-76. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 6, 2016; South Bend, IN, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward Brice Johnson (11) grabs a rebound between Notre Dame Fighting Irish forward Zach Auguste (30) and forward Austin Torres (1) in the first half at the Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame won 80-76. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports /

Name:   Brice Johnson       DOB:  6/27/1994 (21)   School: North Carolina

Height: 6’10              Weight: 230   Projected Position:  PF


2015-16 Stats (27 games):

16.9 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.1 spg, 1.2 bpg, 1.7 tpg (26.9 minutes per game)

62.3 FG%, 76.5 FT%, 65.3 TS%, 62.3 eFG%

25.3 USG%, 11.1 ORB%, 30.5 DREB%, 21.2 TRB%, 2.3 STL%, 4.5 BLK%



Post Offense

While Johnson’s post offense has significantly improved over his college career, he still could improve in many areas.  Johnson doesn’t have a lot of bulk, he does a good job getting low and wide, sealing off his man, and setting a good target for an entry pass. He is able to set up on either block and make a move over either shoulder, though he is much more effective when setting up on the left block. Johnson can have some issues establishing deep position, though his long strides and athleticism can allow him to make up the space to the rim quickly. He is very reliant on scoring with his right hand, though he will show some ability with his left when right around the rim. On either block, Johnson is comfortable with a short hook shot, where his touch has improved over the past couple of years. Johnson will also use his size well to get off a quick turnaround jumper, which has been an effective shot for him. Other than that, his move-set isn’t extremely versatile, but the foundations are there to expand; Johnson has good footwork, showing fluid movement and decent speed, though his ballhandling isn’t great. Luckily, Johnson tries not to put the ball on the ground too much. Another area Johnson needs to improve as not being forced away from the basket on his post moves. Though he has shown improved touch out to 10 feet, he will need to develop some secondary moves so he isn’t always maneuvered by the defender. Johnson can have a tendency to rush his shots, especially when matched up against a longer defender, and while he doesn’t mind contact around the basket, he could have some trouble scoring against longer defenders, though his explosiveness can help. Johnson is a very good option in pick-and-roll sets, opening up well and using long strides to get to the rim quickly to finish. Johnson is also great in cutting situations, whether it’s a basket cut off of penetration or flashing to the middle and making a quick move to the rim. His leaping ability makes a prime target for lobs around the basket, where he can be one of the strongest finishers in college basketball

Perimeter Shooting

Perimeter shooting has not been one of Johnson’s strengths, nor a big part of his game, though there could be hope for him going forward. His shooting mechanics need some tightening, from his feet through the motion to follow-through, but when he has time and space, his shot looks pretty good. One problem is he tends to rush through his motion, which leads to him short-arming the release portion. Also, he can be hesitant at times, making his motion a bit awkward. If he can become confident in his mid-range jumper, he has the tools to be consistent, especially since when he has done it in the past, he’s looked good, even off the dribble, but he needs to work on making it a bigger part of his game.


Johnson has shown more skills as a ballhandler and driver this season more than he has in the past, but it’s still not a rare part of his game, and needs some work. He is able to go left or right with little problem, and he will surprise with his footwork at times as he heads to the basket. Still, he just doesn’t handle the ball enough to be very reliable or consistent, and if he’s going to make a move to the basket, he needs a clear lane. Control can be an issue as Johnson heads towards the basket, and help defenders can cause some issues, but he has shown an improved mid-range jumper off the dribble to help him. While Johnson won’t remind anyone of a point forward with his passing ability, he has tended to make better decisions and shown better vision than in previous seasons. He won’t be a guy you can run the offense through, but he will keep the ball moving if he doesn’t have a good look at the basket.

Free Throw Shooting

Johnson had developed into a reliable free throw shooter, showing strong improvement each season. Johnson has a consistent routine, smooth motion, and good release, though when he does miss, you can easily see where he deviates from the norm. Johnson gets to the free throw line a good deal, having a free throw rate around 42 percent, a good number for his position and usage.

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Post Defense/Help Defense

Johnson has definitely improved as a defender, but he still has some glaring weaknesses. Johnson does a good job positioning himself between his man and the basket, and he uses his length well to try and deny post entry passes. He reacts fairly well to his man’s movements, but he doesn’t show the kind of footwork he does on offense. Johnson can be a bit slow in moving with his man, and he has trouble preventing quick, decisive moves. Also, he doesn’t have the strength yet to prevent players from trying to back him down in the post. Johnson does a good job keeping his hands up as much as possible, at least trying to alter shots or make them a bit tougher. Johnson has improved his awareness each year on defense, though North Carolina’s team defense can be sloppy, often putting a lot of pressure on defenders around the basket, and making reacting in time very tough. Johnson has the ability to be a good shot blocker with his reach and leaping ability, but as mentioned, he could be too far out of position to rotate quickly to act as a rim protector, though he will make a good effort. Johnson is above-average as a pick-and-roll defender, hedging well on the ballhandler, getting wide to contain, and doing a good job recovering to his man.

Perimeter Defense (On/Off Ball)

Johnson isn’t a great perimeter defender for his size, but the potential is there for improvement with some targeted work. He positions himself well, with a decent defensive stance, and looking to stay active, on and off the ball.  His lateral movement needs work, as he tends to bounce instead of sliding his feet, and he doesn’t react to movement as quickly as you’d hope. He can be slow to close on shooters, and if he is in position, he needs to watch getting drawn in the air by shot fakes. Off the ball, Johnson moves fairly well, especially when playing passing lanes, and he does a good job keeping his arms in position to get a deflection. His positioning can use work, as he tends to cheat excessively towards the lane, leaving him susceptible to a good shooting forward, or if he tries to cover ground to close, he is set up for a drive right by him.


Johnson is a fantastic rebounder on both ends of the floor, relying on his instincts and athleticism to get into position and get to the ball quickly. On the offensive boards, Johnson tracks the ball very well, maneuvering into position as the ball is on its path to the rim. While not very physical, he does a great job being quick off the ground, looking to grab the ball as high as possible, and getting second and third chances while others are still reacting. He does miss some very easy put-backs, and his ability to tip the ball in around the basket needs work, but he is still very good at creating extra opportunities. On the defensive end, much of the same applies in how Johnson sets up to grab the missed shot, though he can be susceptible to more physical big men who can push him out of position. However, he shows great energy and rarely quits in looking to secure the ball. One of his biggest improvements over the year has been in his ability to grab the defensive board, scan the floor quickly, and find open teammates streaking down the floor in transition.


Johnson runs the floor well for his size, and while he won’t provide many options other than running to the rim, transition defenders need to keep an eye on him as he comes down the middle or one of the wings, as he needs just a little bit of space to get the ball and finish big. On occasion, Johnson can push the ball himself all the way to the basket if the space is there, though his handle isn’t always reliable.


Johnson is ending his college career with a flourish, averaging a double-double, while shooting over 62 percent from the field, and could be the frontrunner for ACC Player of the Year. His offensive ability may not be versatile, but he is effective when he gets the ball, but there is room for growth. Johnson relies on scoring around the basket, though he is fairly good out to 10 feet. He takes very few jumpers, and he may never be a forward you can rely on to stretch the floor, but his limited attempts show some promise. Johnson’s athletic ability buoys much of what he can do on offense, including running the floor and hitting the offensive glass, where he has a knack for positioning and getting to missed shots quickly.  Defensively, Johnson has a lot of tools that teams will covet, and the notion that his wingspan isn’t long enough is a bit silly, when you add in his athleticism. Now, Johnson does have a lot of work to do to become a better defender, especially with some fundamentals, such as reacting and moving his feet, but these problems seem to afflict North Carolina as a whole, and in the right hands, Johnson can become a fairly competent pro defender. Johnson’s improvement over the past few years has been steady, and it can be easy to overlook that he likely still has some development room left, both physically and skill-wise. Along with Marcus Paige, Johnson has taken on a leadership role with the team, including becoming a go-to player when needed in close games.                

Draft Value:  Late 1st – Early 2nd Round – #24-34

Johnson’s numbers will impress, and he has been a great fit at the forward position for North Carolina, but he is still limited skill-wise, especially on offense, where he relies more on his athletic ability and size more than anything else. Still, in the right system, that athletic ability, combined with his savvy on the boards and ability to run the floor, can make him an intriguing pick for a team that can help him smooth out his rough edges on both offense and defense. While time in the D-League is definitely a possibility, some of what he can offer could be used by some teams off the bench right away. Long-term, I think he will be a great value if picked in this range.

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