Flipp Johnson Player Spotlight

Story posted December 9, 2012 in Sports, CommRadio by Tyler Feldman

Just nine games into Pat Chamber’s second season as Penn State’s head basketball coach, the Nittany Lions’ season has consisted of five wins, four losses, and one devastating season-ending injury to senior star point guard, Tim Frazier.  However, Chambers, his team, and the plethora of Penn State basketball fans around State College all need to rejoice because a 6-1 guard from from Philadelphia, PA, recently transferred from Jamie Dixon’s highly respected Pitt Panther basketball program to Pat Chamber’s up-and-coming Nittany Lions program.

His name is John Johnson, but he prefers to go by the nickname, Flipp.

As a true freshman, Johnson saw considerable time on the court for Dixon’s Pitt Panthers last season.  Flipp was a fan favorite because of his hard play.  However, the Panthers struggled heavily on the defensive end of things last year, which lead to a very rare 5-13 record in the highly competitive Big East Conference.  Pitt’s defensive struggles led Dixon to recruit bigger and taller guards during the off-season.  Unfortunately, between Flipp’s small 6-1 frame and the surprising emergence of Durand Johnson and James Robinson for Pitt, Flipp suddenly became the odd man out.  Early this season Flipp displayed clear signs of discontent regarding playing time, but the majority of Pitt fans overlooked such an issue because Flipp complained about playing time as a true freshman last season.

Finally, John Johnson said enough was enough and made the decision to transfer, but where?

Well, with knowledge that one Pat Chambers is in the process of building an impenetrable pipeline from Philadelphia to State College, Johnson, who is from Philadelphia, decided that Penn State would be a great fit for him.  What a huge addition to this Nittany Lions team who desperately needs help at the guard position.  Even though Flipp will not be eligible to play until next season, just imagine a backcourt that includes Newbill, Johnson, and a healthy Frazier.

Offensively, Johnson is a natural scorer and is looked at by many as a prototypical shooting guard, but  he can also play the point guard position, if called upon.  Last season Dixon gave Johnson the opportunity to play the point, but did not excel to Dixon’s liking.  

For that reason, Johnson plays more like an attacking shooting guard.  If open he can score an easy finger-roll, but if not he struggles to shoot overtop of the big men down low.  Flipp has a great first step and smooth crossover that can pose all types of problems for opponents.  Johnson can hit from downtown, but has a shot that could use some serious work.  He has a clear “push” shot that creates a moon-ball-type arc on his shot; however, the ball goes in frequently.  Flipp is very quick and fast, which will certainly aid in Penn State’s transition game.

Johnson will definitely help Penn State offensively, but there are some components of his game that could use improvement.  A year off will certainly give Flipp time to work on his mid-range game.  Moreover, he is a decent passer, but can be  lazy at times.  Johnson is a great penetrator, but he does not distribute or create open shots when he does so.  More often than not, Johnson will opt to simply shoot rather than pass following his penetrating moves.  Johnson’s biggest area for improvement is his ability to move without the ball.  If Flipp develops his ability to move without the ball, next year he will score with ease with Frazier at the point.

Johnson’s defense is the main reason why he constantly remained on Pitt’s bench this season.  The lone positive of Flipp’s defensive game is his ability to at times steal some passes that lead to easy transition buckets.  Moreover, as an undersized shooting guard, Flipp was constantly at a serious physical disadvantage.  With that being said, such play was during his freshman year under a coach that runs man-to-man defense.  Flipp’s quickness and speed should allow him to be an above average defender by the time he is an upperclassman.

Tyler Feldman is a freshman double-majoring in broadcast journalism and business. To contact him, e-mail ttf5024@psu.edu.

About the Contributors

Tyler Feldman's photo

Tyler Feldman

Senior / Broadcast Journalism and Marketing

Currently, Feldman is an executive producer, reporter and anchor for the Centre County Report, as well as ComRadio’s senior sports director. He also is the host of the Penn State Coaches Show featuring Guy Gadowsky, which airs live from Lettermans on ESPN Radio 1450 and GoPSUSports.com every Tuesday night at 6 p.m. Additionally, he was the first to report the hiring of Joe Moorhead as Penn State football’s new offensive coordinator on December 12, 2015.

He’s a member of the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism within the College of Communications and enrolled in the Smeal College of Business.

Feldman, a Pittsburgh native, has broadcasted sporting events from a number of international and professional venues, including Estadio Latinoamericano in Cuba, Madison Square Garden, CONSOL Energy Center, Wells Fargo Center, MetLife Stadium, M&T Bank Stadium, and EverBank Field.

Last spring, he traveled with the Penn State men’s volleyball team as their play-by-play man, announcing his very first NCAA tournament matches at Stanford’s Maples Pavilion.

He has gained valuable broadcasting and reporting experience interning and working at WTAJ-TV, MLB Network, GoPSUSports.com, 105.9 The X, 970 AM ESPN, Big Ten Network Student U, and State College’s ESPN Radio 1450.

Feldman has a strong passion for sports and dreams to become a sports anchor/reporter in a national market and/or a hockey play-by-play announcer.