The 2017 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, Nevada began on Friday as Brice Johnson and the Los Angeles Clippers squared off against Lonzo Ball and the Los Angeles Lakers. This match-up brought forth the much anticipated debut of Ball, the no. 2 overall pick from this year’s draft.
While all eyes were on the Ball in the Lakers’ uniform, the stat sheet was all about Tar Heels alumni Brice Johnson. The former All-American led the Clippers to a 96-93 victory with 23 points and seven rebounds in 33 minutes of action. The 2016 first round pick shot an impressive 10-of-15 (.667%) from the field and went 3-of-3 from the free throw line.
Although Johnson attempted 15 shots in the contest, one in particular caught everyone’s attention. As Johnson was being guarded by Lonzo Ball, Johnson performed an impressive spin and drove to the basket, dunking on the No. 2 overall pick. Similar to his highlight dunks at North Carolina, Johnson let out a vicious scream after the poster dunk.
Brice Johnson vs. Lonzo Ball in the low post = mismatch pic.twitter.com/xaAMnTJA9k— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) July 8, 2017
Johnson was a four-year member of the Tar Heels basketball program at North Carolina and was ranked as a four-star prospect coming out of high school in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Johnson averaged double digit points in three of his four seasons and saw improvements in his points per game, free throw percentage, and minutes per game.
As a senior in 2015-2016, Johnson led the Tar Heels to a national championship appearance before suffering the heartbreaking loss at the buzzer. He averaged 17 points and 10.4 rebounds per game en route to being named First-team All-ACC and a Consensus First-team All-American. Although he’s pursuing a career in the NBA, Johnson will always be a Tar Heel and will be forever enshrined at the Dean Dome as his No. 11 jersey hangs in the rafters.
While Johnson was impressing on the court, he was accompanied by two former Tar Heels who were joining him on the Clippers Summer League roster. Kendall Marshall and Isaiah Hicks saw significant minutes for the Clippers in hopes of continuing their basketball careers in the NBA.
Marshall impressively posted a double-double as he tallied 11 points and 11 assists. He was an efficient 2-of-3 from the field while going 6-of-7 from the free throw line in his 29 minutes of play. Isaiah Hicks saw 11 minutes of action in his Summer League debut, recording seven points and four rebounds in 11 minutes of action.
As the Summer League continues throughout this week and the next, Johnson and the rest of the former Tar Heels with the Clippers will look to impress the organization and secure a spot on the roster for the upcoming season. With Johnson’s impressive debut, expect him to be the Clippers’ no. 1 scoring option in the Summer League. Although it is unlikely he will put up impressive numbers in every outing in the Las Vegas Summer League, Johnson can secure a spot on the Clippers’ bench and even in the rotation with his play over the next week.