50 in 50 is a feature here at RCT counting down until the Jayhawks kick off the 2011 basketball season on November first. Got an idea for something you'd like to see featured here? tweet @rockchalktalk or @fetch9 or email me at fetch9 at gmail dot com.
Season overview: Last year Elijah Johnson solidified his role as the backup point guard, and even wrestled the starting job from Tyshawn Taylor for awhile after Taylor's suspension, leading to some fairly widespread calls that Elijah should be the starter full time. Overall, he averaged just under 14 minutes per game, and scored a career high 15 points against Oklahoma State.
What he does well: With the graduation of Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed, Johnson is the best outside shooter on the team. He shot 40% from behind the arc last year and posted a very good 62% eFG. Whether his on ball defense is ultimately a plus skill remains to be seen, but his steal rate is encouraging. His 20.3% assist rate was second on the team as well. Beyond tempo free stats, Johnson is extremely athletic, as seen by the number of times he was on the receiving end of alley oops. For reference, see here.
What he doesn't do well: I mentioned his high assist rate, but that is paired with an even higher turnover rate (25.3%). If we get on Tyshawn Taylor for turning the ball over, it's only fair we express concerns over Johnson's penchant for doing so as well, while having less playmaking upside than Taylor. I mentioned his jumping ability in the pros section, but for all that athleticism he's not great at getting into the lane, and that type of guard who can break down the defense will be much needed this year with a lack of go to scoring options. He only shot 67% from the line last year, but it was also in only 15 attempts so don't read anything into it.
Season outlook: This is a potential make or break season for the former five star recruit. He'll probably back up Tyshawn at the point but I think he'll see quite a bit of time at the off guard, and will probably be a starter. Because of his limited playing time so far, his potential outcomes range from basically what he did last year to Brady Morningstar with a higher usage rate and double the athletic ability. And before you laugh, look at these stats and realize that Morningstar with a higher usage rate is one of the best guards in the country.