Texas basketball adds two-way playmaking CG in 4-Star Chris Johnson

Texas basketball and new full-time head coach Rodney Terry picked up their first commitment in the 2023 recruiting class on June 26 with the high-four-star Montverde Academy (FL) combo guard Chris Johnson. The former Kansas Jayhawks signee announced on social media on the morning of June 26 that he is giving his pledge to Texas.

This comes a little more than one week after Johnson was released from his National Letter of Intent at Kansas (specifically on June 16).

Johnson originally committed to Kansas in early August 2022, subsequently signing with head coach Bill Self and the Jayhawks during the Early Signing Period in November 2022. But he de-committed from Kansas by asking for a release from his letter of intent on June 3.

Texas landed Johnson’s commitment a few weeks later over other top schools such as the Arkansas Razorbacks and Washington Huskies.

While Johnson is the newest prospect to commit to the Longhorns, this is not a new relationship established on the recruiting trail between him and the Texas staff. Texas offered Johnson in July 2021.

Former Texas head coach Chris Beard and assistant Jerrance Howard led the charge for the Longhorns on the recruiting trail with Johnson when he was initially offered.

Texas basketball lands Missouri City, TX, native 4-Star CG Chris Johnson

Terry has a good connection with Johnson as he sold his style of play to the blue-chip combo guard recruit (per On3). It also helps that former Texas All-American point guard and the 2002-03 Wooden Award winner T.J. Ford is a big mentor for Johnson.

“Another reason is how Texas plays. I watched them a lot last year, and I’ve been in the gym with a guy like Sir’Jabari Rice since middle school. And I just feel more comfortable going to Texas, knowing that Rice survived and was successful in the program. And also T.J. Ford is a mentor for me. The things he did at there, and the culture at Texas were big.”

It also sounds like the breakout of former New Mexico State transfer and senior shooting guard/wing Sir’Jabari Rice last season for the Longhorns was something that sold Johnson on coming to Texas.

Johnson gives Texas a high-level two-way playmaker

What Texas is getting out of the 6-foot-4 and 180-pound Missouri City, TX, native combo guard Johnson is a lengthy guard that plays with a lot of intensity and explosiveness on both ends of the floor.

On the offensive end, Johnson is a playmaking guard who can fill the secondary facilitator role. Johnson has tremendous court vision and ball-handling skills that can beat opposing defenses by getting to the rim off the dribble or kicking the ball out to an open teammate.

Johnson has a high basketball IQ and a natural feel for the game, which makes him a lethal source of offense with the ball in his hands inside the arc.

The most common ways Johnson will beat you, scoring the ball himself is by getting to the rim and finishing through traffic and/or contact in the lane and/or by utilizing his excellent handles and quick first step to create separation and pull up from the mid-range.

Johnson plays with plenty of confidence and decisiveness, which benefits him when he takes a defender one-on-one within 18 feet of the basket.

I would be remiss if I didn’t go a bit more in depth on Johnson’s passing ability. He’s got a good feel for the timing of when to pass the ball to put his teammates in the best spot to drain high percentage looks.

Johnson is also very creative and exhilarating to watch with some of the crazy passes he makes in transition and the settled half-court offense. Passing the ball over long distances on the court is no issue for the gifted two-way combo guard.

The natural passing and ball-handling skills Johnson brings to the table, combined with his high-level athletic traits, make him a potent guard in transition. Johnson is a fluid and agile guard that runs well in transition. He also knows when to make the pass and when to take the ball to the bucket in transition.

On the defensive end, Johnson is an energetic player that is not afraid to get up in player’s grills in one-on-one matchups on the perimeter. His length and intensity make him a really formidable presence against guards and smaller wings on the perimeter and defending near the basket.

Areas of improvement

Most notably, Johnson needs to work on his shooting mechanics to improve his three-point shot. Johnson is an inconsistent three-point shooter with shaky mechanics and shot selection from deep.

While the three-point shot is the highest priority for Johnson to improve at the collegiate level, he can also work on his mechanics and shot selection on deep twos. He often pulls up from the mid-range and deep inside the arc. But he’ll need to become more consistent and efficient shooting from that distance before the Longhorns will allow him to let it fly often in this offense.

Fit at Texas

The biggest need Terry and the Longhorns were looking to fill on the recruiting trail via the transfer portal or from the high school ranks was to find a lengthy guard. Johnson checks that box to help Texas round out of the backcourt rotation while giving Terry and Co. a high-upside player that can impact this team multiple years into the future.

PG: Max Abmas

SG: Tyrese Hunter

Wing: Brock Cunningham/Dillon Mitchell

B1: Chendall Weaver

B2: Chris Johnson

How I see Johnson fitting with the current projected Texas lineup is a reserve two-guard that can be a playmaker to spark the offense coming off the bench. He gives Texas another capable scoring guard to come off the bench along with the former UT-Arlington transfer Chendall Weaver.

Johnson will likely get double-digit minutes coming off the bench during his true freshman campaign given Texas’ depth need in the backcourt unit, especially for someone of his skill set. Texas doesn’t have much length in the backcourt unit, so Johnson is a valuable addition on both ends of the floor heading into next season.

Texas is now up to double-digit scholarship players on the roster for next season after landing Johnson’s commitment. Terry and the Longhorns have put together a roster that is capable of winning a Big 12 title and making another deep postseason run next year.