Johnson contributing to team early on

The Rutgers men’s basketball team has started off the season strong, all behind stellar defensive performances from many different players. 

One player has stood out the most, though. Sophomore center Myles Johnson has really showed his full potential the past seven games. The 6-foot-10-inch, 255 pound California native has become the reliable piece of a very young Scarlet Knight (6-1) squad it so desperately needed.

Johnson is the defensive anchor Rutgers has been looking for. Starting every single game this season, he has not disappointed. Johnson's relentless defense, will to win and powerful presence has been nothing but the start of a breakout year for the young engineering student. 

He has averaged 8.3 points and approximately seven rebounds per game while shooting an impressive .686 field goal percentage. These stats are not eye-popping, but Johnson is the type of player that excels in places not shown in the box score.

Just watching the games, his intensity on the defensive end is contagious. Though Johnson is young, his teammates have an abundance of trust in him on the defensive end. His defensive leadership has helped other players like junior guard Geo Baker and sophomore guard Ron Harper Jr. excel on defense this year. With the seven games Johnson has started in this year, it is apparent that he isn’t taking his playing time for granted. 

In the 2018-19 campaign, Johnson tallied 23 blocks the whole season. Seven games into the 2019-20 season, he has already swatted 13 blocks at an approximate two blocks per game rate. At this rate, he is on pace to shatter his previous season total.

Johnson has also jumped his points per game average from 4.8 to 8.3. His rebounding averages have also taken a spike from 5.7 to 7.4 per game. In Johnson's best game of the year against NJIT, flashes of his full potential were showcased. In that matchup, he posted 17 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks in a winning effort. 

Johnson's game has not gone unnoticed, either. 

After his stellar performance against the Highlanders (2-5), Harper Jr. let the media know what he thought about his teammate's career night.

"That was the emphasis today, to get him the ball more. You saw him on the block, those post moves. When he's having a day like that, everyone focuses on him and turns their backs, and he's a great passer," Harper Jr. said. "He's able to find people on the perimeter. When his game is clicking, that opens up a lot for everybody."

As previously stated, Johnson’s talents don’t pop out on a box score. Making the right play is vital when you want to develop a statement for your squad throughout the season, though. When he makes the right play, is intense on both sides of the floor and has his teammates' backs, expect good things to happen by the end of the night. 

December will be a real test for Johnson and the Knights team as a whole. Facing off against Pitt will be the toughest test of the season for Rutgers. The young center has been eager and prepared for seven straight games, and there is no doubt that he will be ready for the eighth. The Knights face the Panthers (6-2) on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 9 p.m.

For updates on the Rutgers men's basketball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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