During his recently-completed sophomore season, Colorado's Xavier Johnson made significant strides from the year before.
The junior-to-be isn't satisfied, though, and he's putting in work to make sure he's a better player for the Buffaloes during the 2014-15 basketball season.
"I think it'll be a good opportunity for me," he said of his upcoming junior season with the Buffs. "Hopefully I'll do what I'm supposed to do out there and enjoy my time."
A 6-foot-7 forward from Los Angeles, Johnson averaged 12.0 points and 5.9 rebounds for the Buffs (23-12) last season, while being one of the team's most consistent shooters from 3-point range.
"I made strides in my offensive and defensive game," Johnson said, comparing his freshman and sophomore seasons. "I gained more confidence, doing more of the things I usually want to do — taking a variety of different shots: post, mid-range and 3-point shots; attacking the hoop like I usually do."
Johnson also gained a measure of consistency toward the end of the season. Early on, he was prone to following a great game with a subpar outing. But, down the stretch, with the Buffs playing without injured guard Spencer Dinwiddie, Johnson was one of the Buffs' more consistent weapons on offense.
"It was good, because it was imperative that I went out there and performed every game, more so than ever," he said. "I just feel like I had to step up a lot for myself and for my team. I just went out there and did it for the most part."
Almost two months into offseason workouts, Johnson is aiming for more, though. He battled tendonitis in his left knee last season and although he played through it, he said, "I wasn't as explosive off my left leg as I wanted to be. I didn't finish a lot of stuff I could have usually finished."
These days, his knee is feeling better, but he also trying something else to help his explosiveness. Johnson finished the season at about 230 pounds and is trying to slim down to 220-225 range before next season.
"I'm mostly just working on my own body, cutting down on the weight and gaining more physique — getting stronger, better, faster, quicker and more explosive," he said. "This is all so I can be a complete three-guard."
Johnson becoming a more complete player would greatly benefit the Buffs. He's been a great asset to them because of his versatility to go in the paint and score from the perimeter, but there's improvement to be made.
"He has to keep getting better defensively," assistant coach Mike Rohn said. "That's probably his biggest challenge, but he did get better (last season). His deal is he's just got to become more consistent."
In addition to his defense, Johnson and the Buffs hope he can improve his ball-handling, which, in turn, should help his assist-to-turnover ratio. So far in his CU career, Johnson has 3.0 turnovers for every assist (116 turnovers, 39 assists).
"I'm hoping to show the coaches I can handle the ball better so I can handle the ball more in games," he said.
Johnson and the Buffs also hope to see his free throw shooting improve. He did make a jump from 56.1 percent as a freshman to 61.3 last year, but the Buffs hope to see that number get even better.
"That's just mental focus," he said. "I work on that every day."
Unlike last summer, Johnson is staying in Boulder during May and June to work out and improve his game.
Then, in August, Johnson will play in China as part of a Pac-12 All-Star team. The 13-player team will play four games during their tour, including one game against the Chinese Basketball Association champion Guangdong Southern Tigers, who are led by former NBA player Yi Jianlian.
Johnson is hoping the offseason workouts and trip to China can help him develop into the player he wants to become.