Chris Bird makes a recruitment claim AJ Johnson just became the second five-star prospect to go to Texas in the class of 2023, and third in the two years since Byrd arrived in Austin.

As Beard continues to improve on the sheer talent of the Longhorns roster, he continues to talk about the importance of each of these players continuing to “manage their own race”.

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Five-star talents come with inevitable one-time expectations, even if they are disproportionate to the level of immediate impact they are willing to make at the college level.

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This may be especially true for Johnson, whose long-term potential may be as high as any national-class defender, but who is still in the early stages of his overall development.

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Scouting Johnson

Johnson is an aspiring big defenseman who is in the process of rapid ascension and still has a lot of untapped potential. There are tools to test all parameters when it comes to position size, length, athleticism, play and skill.

He is 6 feet 5 inches with long arms and legs. He plays fast, plays exceptionally smoothly on the open field, and at times practically glides with the ball. He hits the ball well from the outside and is deft in handling the ball with both combinational moves and constant tempo changes. Sometimes he can dance too much with his pen instead of going straight to his line. Johnson is also still working on finding a balance between the aggressiveness of his own attack and the creation for others, as he tends to become passive instead of staying in attack mode and reading where help comes from.

Most of all he needs to pump up his body as he is very skinny and often unable to play through contact right now. This can affect him at both ends of the court, but especially the finisher. At the same time, his gross motor skills, especially on the defensive end of the floor, and his willingness to be physically active should be more consistent.

Overall, however, he has every opportunity to become one of the best players, not just defenders, in the national class. It’s just a matter of him continuing to take the next steps to improve his game and body.

Fit in Texas

FROM Marcus Carr and Sir Jabari Rice will be ineligible after the season, Texas will have over 50 minutes per game to fill the backcourt next year and that’s assuming both Tyrese Hunter as well as Morris artery come back.

The backcourt trio of Hunter, Morris and Johnson could be one of the most explosive in college basketball. Add to Rowan Brambo, a former top 100 prospect in the 247Sports Composite, and has a strong core of four defenders. Hunter will provide the veterans with stability as the main playmaker, while Morris and Johnson will have plenty of opportunities to both play important minutes and showcase their playing skills.

In particular, it is critical for Johnson to strike a balance where he has the immediate ability, but not the burden, to be the facilitator from day one.

If Hunter had gone into the draft after this year, the dynamics would have changed. Johnson and Morris are an incredibly talented duo, but also very young, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Texas returned to the portal to find an experienced defender to fill their backcourt rotation.

In terms of playing style, defense is an absolute requirement in Texas. Johnson has length and fluidity that must eventually be realized, but it becomes imperative to get stronger and learn to play through contact more willingly and consistently.

His sheer talent will put him on the pitch, but how significant his role will be will depend on his ability to be a productive defender, probably more than any other variable.

In short, Johnson is an elite prospect, but he still needs time to “run his race.” The coming year is sure to have its ups and downs, with signs of extreme potential and moments of inconsistency. The bottom line is that the former becomes more and more frequent as the year progresses.