The Americans' stiffest test of the 2014 FIBA Americas Under-18 tournament wasn't so stiff. Team USA rolled to a 113-79 win against Canada on Tuesday as they completed an undefeated run that earned them a spot in the U-19 championships.
Arizona coach Sean Miller acted as assistant, and incoming freshman Stanley Johnson won the MVP honors for the five-game tournament in Colorado Springs. Johnson averaged 14 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game.
Though Johnson's defense became the fixture for the American squad that out-muscled and overwhelmed every opponent they met -- from the 98-point win to open the tournament onward -- his 47-percent shooting against inferior competition comes as a minor concern as far as the Wildcats are concerned. Nine players on the 12-man roster shot better than 50 percent, and Johnson led the squad with 57 attempts in five games.
Johnson additionally hit just 4-of-14 from three-point range.
To be clear, that doesn't mean Johnson will unrightfully act as the main scorer or facilitator for Miller at Arizona. The Wildcats will have plenty around him, and his role will include scoring off offensive rebounds or creating transition opportunities for himself with his defensive aggression. But depending on lineups, this could lead to similar problems as those with Aaron Gordon last season. If Johnson is in the starting lineup as Nick Johnson's replacement at shooting guard, it would make for an imposing defensive lineup without more than two shooters in point guard T.J. McDonnell and forward Brandon Ashley.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is a likely candidate to play small forward, so perhaps Johnson could instead fill Hollis-Jefferson's role from a year ago by coming off the bench. That would allow Gabe York to start -- his shooting would help stretch the floor for Kaleb Tarczewski and his defensive liabilities will be manageable playing with an otherwise stout starting lineup.
Johnson's best strength isn't on offense, so call this a minor conversation-starting quibble. He'll be a major contributor and game-changer from day one because of his physicality on the other end of the court.