Updated: Jul 19, 2020
The sophomore combo guard looks to continue to build off a solid freshman season that gave Louisville basketball fans a glimpse of what makes the 6’5 playmaker so special.
If there is a college basketball season in 2020-2021 the success of the Louisville Cardinals will fall squarely on the shoulders of DJ. With established players such as Jordan Nwora and Steven Enoch gone, Coach Mack will rely heavily on his returning guard. The rising sophomore will have a target on his back against ACC foes for sure. His more notable games were against conference opponents such as Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Clemson. The Duke game really intrigued NBA scouts and created a buzz around his name. Against the Blue Devils he was able to showcase his versatility where he recorded 19 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks in a hostile Cameron Indoor Stadium where he also delivered a victory.
When you turn on the tape and review DJ’s game your first observation will be his length and size. David is interchangeable at the guard position with his 6’5 height and 6’10 wingspan. Couple that with his sneaky athleticism and skill set, he makes for a difficult match up. Since his days at Louisville Trinity High School, he’s always reminded myself of CJ McCollum. Yes - he’s got that type of bag. He is crafty and has wiggle off the dribble. He utilizes different hesitation dribble moves, has counters and will beat his man to the rim and has shown the ability to knock down the intermediate game. Also, he thrives in PNR situations. This is where he uses great change of pace and displays his vision. In PNR scenarios DJ can beat the defender with his ability to drive and finish or create for his teammates. In addition, he is great in transition. He finds teammates, can finish at the rim or pull up.
DJ will have to improve his shooting percentage from long range but also be more efficient with the ball in his hands. Not sure if his shoulder injury from the pre-season is what hindered his long range shooting, but he only shot 21% from behind the arc. This obviously for any potential NBA prospect is a major concern. Additionally, as the season progressed his assist to turnover ratio got worse. In losses, he averaged 2.6 assists to 2.3 turnovers.
Ultimately, the success of Coach Mack and Louisville will fall on David Johnson. How he performs will largely dictate what type of season the Cardinals will have. I have been watching David since he was a freshman at Trinity. His Junior year he was playing with Justin Powell (Auburn) and Jay Scrubb (Pro). This team was considered a lock to win the state championship in Kentucky, however, they fell short in the state tournament. Scrubb graduated and Powell transferred to Montverde subsequently after DJ’s Junior year. David went on to take a less heralded Trinity team not only to state but they won the 2019 State Championship. It was a bit of a fairy tale ending for a stellar Louisville kid. His combination of size and skill will make him a pro, but I think his leadership and selfless attitude is really what will set him apart in the end.