Freshman Focus is an A10talk series that takes a look at some of the incoming freshman for the upcoming 2016-17 season. We take a closer look at some of the more talented first year players who will take the court for the first time next season.
Jalen Johnson is one of 3 freshmen that will be joining the Billikens next season, and unlike the other two, Johnson could be an immediate starter. The 6-7, 190 lb. small forward resides from Baton Rouge, Louisiana where he played ball at University Laboratory School. He is a consensus 3 star recruit according to a number of different recruiting sites, and Rivals has him ranked as high as 33rd for his position. Johnson averaged 21.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game last season to help his team win a state title.
Johnson is one of those players that can do just about everything on the floor. The incoming freshman can hit the three with ease, which is great for a Saint Louis team that shot just 32.8% from downtown last season. In addition, he’s skilled enough to drive to the hoop and either finish through contact or dish the ball out to an open shooter. At 6-7, Jalen Johnson is an excellent passer, and he should give the Billikens a lot in terms of points and assists when he takes the floor next season.
Travis Ford has managed to bring in a lot of outside talent since accepting the job as Saint Louis’ next head coach. That being said, most of the incoming talent will have to sit out a year before taking the floor. Michigan State transfer Javon Bess is expected to be a huge contributing piece to this Billikens squad once he’s ready to go in 2017-18, but until then, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Johnson get the nod as starting small forward. With Milik Yarbrough having transferred, Johnson remains as the only true 3 on the Billikens’ roster. Without a lot of other options, I’d expect the Billikens to use Johnson extensively as a wing player this coming season.