For a fleeting moment in January, Brandon Johns looked the part. He dove to the rim off pick-and-rolls, found space in the lane and finished emphatically. He ran back up the floor as teammates on the bench held each other back, unflappable. At a moment in Michigan’s season where the Wolverines had a gaping hole at the backup center spot, Johns looked ready to step into the void.
He scored 13 points that day against Indiana. For the rest of the year, he scored seven, often looking the part of a deer staring down headlights. Instead of Johns giving Michigan its answer, the question lingered through the end of the season without resolution.
Johns’ natural talent — four stars and a 6-foot-8 frame packed with athleticism — seemed to portend greater things, and sooner. There was an expectation for him to do more. He knew it as much as everyone else, and as he sat on the bench, his confidence waned.