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Player Profile: Brice Johnson

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Brice Johnson - Senior, Forward, 6-10, 230 lbs

2014-15 Stats: 12.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 56.6 FG%, 67.8 FT%, 42 blocks

What Happened Last Season

At times Brice Johnson showed flashes of being one of the best big men in the conference and the perfect interior compliment to Marcus Paige on the perimeter. Johnson garnered 3rd-team All-ACC honors and was 1st-team All-ACC Tournament as UNC lost to Notre Dame in the finals. Johnson had eight double-doubles on the season and worked to improve his scoring ability to be able to move out from the basket a little more over his first two years. His athleticism and ability to run the floor were often on display as he led the Tar Heels in scoring 12 times. He was first on the team (and top 5 in the ACC) in field goal percentage and was seventh in the ACC in rebounding.

At other times, Johnson made awful decisions and had a penchant for drawing stupid fouls far from the basket, leading him to spend long periods on the bench and fouling out of five games. Still, Johnson played some of his best basketball in last year's postseason, averaging 18 points in the ACC Tournament and was 10 of 12 from the floor in the ACC Tournament loss to the Irish.

Season Outlook

UNC football fans know it as "Good Quise/Bad Quise". Senior quarterback Marquise Williams, when he is on, plays like one of the best quarterbacks in the country; conversely, when he is off, he makes bad decisions that lead to costly mistakes. UNC basketball fans spent much of last season playing "Good Brice/Bad Brice". When Johnson was dialed in, he could be a beast on both ends of the floor. When he was not, he seemed distracted and made awful decisions that often led to bad fouls often away from the basket. So the biggest question headed into this season is, will the Tar Heels have more episodes of Good Brice or Bad Brice?

On paper, Johnson is everything you would want in a Carolina big man. He is long, athletic, and quick. He has put on 40 pounds onto his matchstick frame from when he first arrived at Chapel Hill so at 230 pounds he won't be conceding nearly as much heft on the inside. His scoring ability and shotmaking have steadily improved each season, but his consistency and drive have always been his biggest question marks. He also needs to improve his offensive rebounding skills. Paige said earlier this year that what separated Johnson from the elite players in the league was "just that extra gear", and that when he finds it, he will be special. Most observers would concur that if Johnson can make that jump to being a big-time player every night, with all the other weapons in place, UNC has the chance at a very special season.