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Kevin Johnson Season in Review

Many consider the Cincinnati native's 2015-16 season an underachievement considering the expectations after a solid sophomore season, but the junior guard emerged as the Bearcats sixth man by providing needed intensity off the bench.

Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

The Numbers

  • 6.1 points, 11.6 per 40 minutes
  • 1.7 assists, 3.2 per 40 minutes
  • 0.9 steals, 1.6 per 40 minutes
  • .347/.308/.750 shooting splits
Anytime a player stays in his hometown to play college ball, there is always added pressure. That is something that junior Kevin Johnson deals with every season. The Cincinnati native was expected to play a larger role in the starting offense after starting 24 games as a sophomore. However, as time went on, Mick Cronin used Johnson in the 2015-16 season as more of a sixth man rather than a starter. Johnson did not start a single game until February 27 against East Carolina, but still averaged 21.2 minutes per game as one of the first players off the bench.

Johnson was one of the Bearcats top 3-point shooters in the 2014-15 season with a 35 percent success rate from beyond the arc. That number decreased this past season by nearly a full five percentage points(.308), falling below many expectations. Johnson hit the ground running against Robert Morris way back in November with a then season-high 14 points, including four three-pointers in 23 minutes. However, as the season wore on, Johnson's offense was still not nearly as consistent as he may have wanted. He made it up for it with his aggressive style of defense that showcased the intensity that he brings every night to the court.

Then there came one moment in March where Johnson nearly cemented himself in Bearcat folklore history forever. In the third overtime of the AAC tournament quarterfinals against the UConn Huskies, Johnson drained a three-pointer to give the Bearcats a three-point lead with 0.8 seconds left, seemingly sealing the instant classic for the black and red. Then Huskies guard Jalen Adams launched the ball from 70 feet down the court at the buzzer and well....uh....you know the rest.

Overall, Johnson finished the season with a 6.1 points per game average which is 0.4 lower than his sophomore campaign. He increased his assists and steals per game slightly at 1.7 and 0.9, respectively, in 42 fewer minutes from the season before. Johnson's numbers were decent but seen by most as an underachievement considering the expectations after the steps forward in his first two seasons. KJ did make better use of his time at the charity strip,e increasing free throw percentage from 65.9 percent to 75. It was not an immaculate increase, but definitely an improvement after drawing much criticism for it the season before.

The Best of the Best

Wednesday January 13 vs. Houston

Johnson's finest hour came in a mid-week conference game against the Houston Cougars where he compiled a season-high 15 points which was also a team-high. Johnson hit five shots, four of which were three-pointers. Many thought this would bring more consistent efforts from the hometown kid, but he never got that close again all season.

For Next Year

Johnson will look for a more consistent offensive campaign in 2016-17, his final season as a Bearcat. It remains to be seen whether Johnson will be used as a sixth man again, or carve out a spot in the starting lineup. If Johnson does start on the bench, solid offensive numbers could help him gain starts and minutes unless Cronin prefers to utilize his energy as a reserve. Johnson has admitted before that he puts added pressure on himself and that that created a very inconsistent offensive game. Look for Johnson to take on more responsibility in his senior season and embrace representing the city he grew up in, instead of feeling that pressure.