Jayce Johnson: Beast of the boards

Jayce Johnson

(Photo by Ryan Messier/Paint Touches)

It doesn’t take much effort to find my feelings on Jayce Johnson’s addition this summer.

Heck, I wrote a whole post on why, unless Marquette was overhauling its offense, it made no sense to bring him in.

Before you go straight to ColdTakesExposed, there was one part that has held up well.

By adding Jayce, it signals to me that either Ed Morrow is transferring, or the staff will have him playing the 4 much more often this season. There is always the chance that Ed slides into a Matt Heldt-type, spot-minute role, but I highly doubt he would stay if that is what was communicated to him. He came to Marquette with the hope of playing more 4, but saw almost all his minutes at the 5 last season. Cutting those already limited minutes would probably mean cutting ties altogether.

So the only way for these 3 players to coexist while still keeping their minutes up to 2018 levels would be for one of them (Ed) to spend time at the 4. Which doesn’t seem to suit him or this team one bit.

Of course, Morrow didn’t transfer and is instead on an indefinite leave for personal reasons, but it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to connect some of the dots.

And the biggest dot is that a healthy (or at least healthier) Jayce is an absolute animal on the boards, particularly the offensive glass. A quick scroll of KenPom this summer could have told us that, but actually seeing it in real time brings a new level of appreciation and understanding. He’s ruthless.


I can totally see why the coaches and onlookers were raving about him this summer, and why Wojo would risk inserting chemistry issues/minute complaints to what appeared to be a tight-knit group, post Hauser transfers.

Jayce brings a toughness to the glass I honestly have never seen from a Marquette player before. And it isn’t just that he’s big and uses his body well, he’s surprisingly limber, too. He has a quick second jump and has no regard for human life, his or the opponent’s.

But again, he isn’t committing dumb fouls in the process. It’s understanding where to position himself to not be at risk for the silly over the backs. He just has intangibles that you can’t teach or measure.

The tangible portions also say the same thing, though.

Jayce chart.JPG

Of all Marquette players to lace them up and play at least 25% of minutes the last 12 years, only 1 has finished with a Defensive Rebounding rate over 22%, Henry Ellenson in 2016 at 24.1%. Jayce is currently tied with the first-round NBA pick.

Of all Marquette players to lace them up and play at least 25% of minutes the last 12 years, no one has finished the season with an Offensive Rebounding rate over 16%. Jayce is currently at 19.8%

With one of the biggest worries coming into the season being who could fill in for the Hauser’s rebounding, Jayce has more than assuaged those fears.

But it’s not just the rebounding in isolation, it’s what that rebounding has done for the offense. Here’s Wojo after last night:

I wanted to quantify exactly how much the offensive boards have been worth to this team, so I went through and watched all 18 since conference play began. Wojo knows what he’s talking about.

Marquette has scored 28 points in the ensuing possession off of Jayce’s offensive rebounds in Big East play, for a ridiculous 1.56 PPP. We are talking about lost possessions not only being regained, but adding to an offense at an efficiency level that would be one of the greatest of all time.

I think the most impressive part is that we are not talking about many putback slams or tip ins from Jayce himself, as that only accounts for 6 of the points. Instead, Johnson has proven to be a tremendous passer.

He’s able to read the defense and find streaking cutters.


And he’s also able to set up shooters at the arc, for wide open attempts while the defense is scrambling.


(Markus made that BTW.)

Of the 11 possessions that started with an OBoard and finished with a made basket, Jayce has assisted on 5 of them.  If you want to take the full 18, Jayce is assisting on 27.8% of all possessions in which he grabs an offensive rebound.

The samples are still small, and the numbers may stabilize as his minutes continue to climb, but it’s safe to say that although Johnson may not worry opposing coaches with his offensive ability, his rebounding ability has a direct, positive correlation with Marquette’s offensive resurgence.

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One Comment on “Jayce Johnson: Beast of the boards”

  1. eddie
    January 22, 2020 at 3:08 pm #

    So are you saying that Ed has left the building/program? Worried about ending the season with 8 players playing (assuming Greg’s ankle does not heal)

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