By Mychal Hunter
Anyone who has listened or read my material in the past year knows, I love this kid’s game. Coming in at #9, the second entry for the North Carolina State Wolfpack: Markell Johnson.
Coming into last season when I first started ACCBR one of the first pieces I wrote was “5 Guards to keep an eye on.” Johnson was one of the easiest names to put on that list and I was absolutely correct (not so humble brag). Now granted, CJ Walker was also on that list so, ya know. You win some and you lose some.
The do-it-all guard first caught my attention towards the end of his freshman season. He didn’t put up huge numbers in 2016-17, but you could tell he was a player. He was late joining the Pack on the court due to some legal issues (which he was cleared of), but in 26 games last season he averaged 9 points, 7 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game. He was the only player in the league last season to average all four of those totals. He also shot 40% from deep. His 190 assists were second in the ACC behind only Trevon Duval, who racked up 207. Johnson played 8 fewer games.
It is not all rainbows and unicorns however. Johnson did average over 3 turnovers per game with a turnover percentage of over 30%. Those numbers are high. In fact, Johnson is the only player in the league to average more than 7 assists and more than 3 turnovers per game. Some of those turnovers can be attributed to the style of play as NC State was in the top 40 of adjusted tempo according to KenPom.
It is hard to imagine that Johnson could improve on those numbers, but the Pack will have more perimeter talent this year so the assists numbers could actually improve. I also look for Johnson to hit double figures in scoring on a regular basis.
All in all I am very high on this Wolfpack team in 2018-19 and Markell Johnson is a big reason why. In my humble opinion he is one of the three best point guards in the ACC.