Tennessee freshman Keon Johnson will declare for the 2021 NBA draft and forgo his remaining college eligibility by hiring an agent, he advised ESPN Wednesday.
Johnson, the No. 6 prospect from the ESPN 100, was appointed to the SEC’s all-rookie group after averaging 11.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 25 minutes per match.
“I truly don’t care what amount I get drafted at. I only need to go someplace I fit in that organization. Where I can keep developing and find my market.”
A late bloomer who grew up as a shortstop on the baseball field, Johnson did not emerge as a top-shelf prospect until the spring and summer before his senior year of high school.
After missing the majority of his senior year of high school with a knee injury, Johnson began his freshman season slowly at Tennessee, coming off the bench for 10 of their first 11 games and playing just 13 minutes in his introduction. He improved dramatically as the season went, scoring 27 points in a win at Kentucky in February and averaging 17 points per game in his final five competitions.
“After I get comfortable and right into a groove I understand the different expectations that are awarded,” Johnson stated. “Not starting or not playing as much early in the summer didn’t bother me because I knew I had to grow so that I chose that upon myself to make that shift.”
Johnson is considered one of the quickest and most explosive players in the school game in terms of his capacity to accelerate from a standstill and eliminate his toes for dunks and blocks. As the year progressed, he began dispersing real upside as a ball-handler in pick and roll situations. His ability to play at different rates, and utilize or reject a ball-screen, together with his size, body controller, fluidity and creativity as a passer, suggest significant room for expansion longterm. Defensively, he proved able to stay in front of guards and wings with his physical tools and competitive style of play.
“I think NBA teams see a defensive-minded guard who can score at all 3 levels,” Johnson stated. “I feel as if my 3-point shot is going to enhance and keep me to the court in the NBA, along with my versatility on the offensive end.”
The NBA announced last week the draft will be conducted July 29, also has scheduled its own draft blend for June 21, featuring competitive 5-on-5 action”subject to public health states.”