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Rams latest signing addresses major need

photo credit Mitsu Yasukawa/The Star-Ledger

VCU got a mid-summer surprise with the landing of their second top-100 player of this incoming class in 4-star guard Melvin Johnson.

Johnson joins Jordan Burgess as the first-ever top 100 duo to enter VCU in a given year, and he’ll hope to fill a major void left by the graduation of Jordan’s brother Bradford.

The Rams pestered teams all last season with a suffocating defense that put Shaka Smart’s “havoc” system on the national radar. But when shots didn’t fall — and they often didn’t — the black and gold needed every turnover to get to that 29-game win total they amassed with one of the nation’s top-10 youngest teams.

The freshman Johnson, after leaving ACC Miami coached by former George Mason honcho Jim Laranaga, is known as a major scorer and deep threat, two categories in which VCU struggled in last season.

The Rams 33.4% long range average was good for fourth in the CAA last year, but would have ranked just 11th against Atlantic 10 teams. Their 68 points/game, good for just 12th among A-10 teams this past season.

The graduation of the elder Burgess won’t help either of those stats, losing their top scorer (13.4 pts/game) and second most accurate deep threat — a player who ranks second all-time in three-point field goals made at 231 and eighth all time in career three point accuracy at 39.6%.

Prior to Johnson’s arival, VCU’s class consisted of bigs Justin Tuoyo and Mo Alie-Cox with Bradford’s brother Jordan, a scorer, but thought to be more of a penetrating tough guy than the finesse player his older brother was.

The 6’3 Bronx, NY native Johnson will look to join senior guard Troy Daniels as another accurate deep threat for VCU. Johnson filled the stat sheets at St. Benedict’s, helping lead the school to a 36-3 record — good for the all-time win record — before falling in the national semifinal to top-seeded Findlay Prep, 68-55.

We were unable to track down full stats for Johnson, but from the beginning of last season through March 8th (a 30 game sample), Johnson had five games with six makes from deep and seven with 20 or more points, three of which he went for 30+. Johnson had 82 made threes through that point in the season.

That ability to score could potentially find Johnson good minutes on Coach Smart’s maturing team, and combined with a talented core of returning backcourt players, should give opposing teams nightmares when preparing for an already dangerous group of havoc wreakers.

 

 

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