When the NBA Draft takes place next week (June 27), it’s not clear if Reggie Johnson’s name will be called out as one of the chosen ones.
Johnson, a Winston-Salem native who played at the University of Miami, has been busy in recent weeks displaying his skills in pre-draft workouts for the Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets and several other NBA teams. The 6-feet-10, 295 pounds center has attracted more than casual interest.
Michael Hodges, who serves as Johnson’s agent, declined to speak specifics about his client’s status as a draft pick or free agent. He’s confident, however, that Johnson will get his opportunity to earn a roster spot on a NBA team.
“We’ll know a lot more after the draft is over,” said Hodges in a phone interview. “Reggie excels when it comes to grabbing rebounds. He’s agile, has legitimate NBA size and has the ability to score the ball inside.”
The 2010-11 season was Johnson’s best as a collegian. As a sophomore, he averaged 11.9 points, 9.6 rebounds and was voted honorable mention All-ACC. Johnson graduated from Miami with a degree in liberal arts last December.
Johnson’s final season of college ball didn’t turn out the way he hoped it would. His per-game averages slipped to 6.7 points and seven rebounds. Prior to the start of his senior year (2012-13), the former Winston-Salem Prep star was viewed as a key cog in the middle for the Hurricanes, who won the ACC regular-season and tournament titles and advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16.
The season came to an abrupt end for Johnson after Miami’s second-round NCAA win over Illinois. A knee injury which required surgery prevented Johnson from playing in the Sweet 16. He had planned to be available for action if the Hurricanes made it to the Final Four, but those plans were nullified when Miami lost to Marquette in the Sweet 16. Being sidelined probably hampered Miami’s chances to make a strong run at the NCAA title, and it certainly caused Johnson’s NBA draft stock to drop because he didn’t get the opportunity to show what he could do against the best college competition.
Hodges is satisfied that Johnson is primed to prove that’s he’s a worthy NBA acquisition.
“Reggie is very close to being 100 percent (recovered from his injury),” said Hodges. “At the workouts, he’s showing what he can do and he’s competing.”
NBA Draft analysts aren’t convinced that Johnson will enter the NBA as a second-round draft pick or as a free agent. The consensus is that he’ll have to re-establish himself all over again in the eyes of the pro scouts. They predict that he’ll more than likely start his pro career in the D-League (NBA’s development league) or overseas.
There’s no question that the D-League is a step down from the big-time. Still, it’s hardly a career-ending move. Roughly 25 percent of every NBA roster is comprised of players who have played in the D-League. Jeremy Lin (Houston Rockets), Danny Green (San Antonio Spurs), Joel Anthony (Miami Heat), Matt Barnes (Los Angeles Clippers) and Avery Bradley (Boston Celtics) are among the most notable D-League alumni who are now playing in the NBA.