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June 17, 2013

GoldandBlack.com's top athletes: No. 10





A national champion, a professional draft pick, all-Americans, All-Big Ten selections and some conference champions highlight our annual list of Purdue's athletes-of-the-year.

We start our list with Terone Johnson, as GoldandBlack.com takes a subjective look at the top 10 Boilermakers from 2012-13.

Bio: Junior whose ability to take over games offensively boosted the Boilermakers

Summary: With several key performers being underclassmen - including brother Ronnie - Terone Johnson was counted upon to be a leader and a consistent contributor for Matt Painter's Boilermakers.

Johnson doesn't necessarily count himself a success in those regards, especially after Purdue didn't finish above .500 for the first since Painter's first season. Being a competitor, he struggled to find value in his individual performance, even though he was named a third-team All-Big Ten pick by league coaches and led Purdue in scoring (13.5 ppg).

But there was little denying Johnson's importance and improvement.

He had career-highs in three-point and free throw percentages, making 35 percent of threes and 65 percent from the line. Even with more attention and opponents well-scouted on his ability to get to the rim, Johnson still had success creating and sinking floaters.

That sparked him to some can't-be-stopped games as a junior, including his monster 32-point game against Michigan on March 6. In it, Johnson made 12-of-17 shots in a narrow five-point loss to the eventual national runners-up. The 32 points were the most scored by any player in the Big Ten last season.

They also came during a nice final run by Johnson. In the last 11 games of the season, he averaged 15.6 points, had nine double-digit scoring games and made 46 percent of his shots, including 41 percent on 37 three-pointers.

But, in the story of the season, Purdue won only four of those games.

"I think it kind of gets overshadowed because we're losing," Johnson said during the season of his individual performance. "Some of the good things get overshadowed when you lose, but if you pull that win out a lot of little things get glamorized.

"I feel like whether I score 30 points, have 10 rebounds, when we lose, I still feel like I had a bad game. I could have done something better. I think that's how it should be across the board."

Analysis: Johnson admittedly wasn't as good of a leader as he could have been last season, struggling to break out of his comfort zone and be more vocal. But he knows it's a role he must seize in his final season.

It's a good sign that Johnson went to work hard on the weak areas of his game - free throw and three-point shooting - and saw those extra sessions result in a boost in numbers as a junior.

He's taking that same dogged approach to improvement this offseason, fueled by the team's struggles a year ago and his desire to limit a repeat performance.

"I don't think anybody who played last year or didn't play liked seeing what happened," Johnson said this spring. "It's about turning it around now and being here (in May) is just part of it."

Countdown:
No. 10: Terone Johnson
No. 9: June 18
No. 8: June 19
No. 7: June 20
No. 6: June 21
No. 5: June 24
No. 4: June 25
No. 3: June 26
No. 2: June 27
No. 1: June 28






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