Johnson declares for NBA Draft

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on April 12, 2010 at 12:00 pm Dressed down in a plain white T-shirt and silver athletic shorts, Wes Johnson hugged assistant coach Rob Murphy and flashed his trademark smile as he rounded the makeshift podium set up for his announcement Monday. ‘I’m declaring for the NBA Draft,’ Johnson said. ‘Right now, I just want to thank everybody in general. It has always been my dream to go to the NBA.’Ending nearly three weeks of speculation, Johnson formally signaled his departure at a press conference inside the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center Monday afternoon.Standing in the foreground of a portrait depicting Anthony, one of SU’s great one-and-done stars, Johnson answered a question that had been following him since the Orange’s sour dismissal from the NCAA Tournament on March 25. He has yet to sign with an agent or work out for any NBA teams, he said.‘Honestly, I was going back and forth daily whether I wanted to leave or if I wanted to stay. There really was no set-in-stone decision,’ Johnson said. ‘It just really came down to not wanting to leave, but this was the best decision for me.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder textJohnson’s announcement provides closure on a rapid one-year ascension for the Iowa State transfer. Following a year on the bench for NCAA transfer regulations, the relatively unknown forward exploded onto the scene, leading SU in scoring (16.5 points per game) and rebounding (8.5 rebounds per game), while garnering the Big East Player of the Year award. Johnson also finished in the running for the Naismith Trophy, the Wooden Award and the Oscar Robinson Trophy.Expert draft Web sites, such as, have Johnson pegged as high as No. 3 overall, right after Kentucky’s John Wall and Ohio State’s Evan Turner. Others have him slotted firmly inside the Top 10.The atmosphere at the Melo Center had the feeling of any typical offseason day. Most of Johnson’s teammates wandering around the complex appeared supportive. SU guard Scoop Jardine, upon hearing the news, insisted that Johnson pick him up from campus so he could spend time with his now ex-teammate.‘I just found out today. I got a text like 12 o’clock, he told me he did it,’ Jardine said. ‘I’m just happy for him. I told him to come get me from campus. I missed class and everything just to be with him and share this moment with him.’For James Southerland, the moment didn’t come as a surprise. The rising sophomore talked about how much he’ll miss spending time with Johnson and how the team will replace such a big presence after finding out about his teammate’s departure via text message from assistant coach Mike Hopkins.‘I saw it coming,’ Southerland said. ‘I think we all saw it coming.’Orange forward Kris Joseph, Johnson’s roommate, did not speak to the media, stating that he had ‘nothing to add.’ Johnson said he knew Joseph was disappointed, but supportive as well.But for Johnson, 22, it was a day to commemorate what was the end of another road in a rather unorthodox journey. Largely unnoticed out of high school, Johnson de-committed from Louisiana Monroe and bounced around the grim circuit of collegiate prep school basketball, from The Patterson School in North Carolina to Eldon Academy in Michigan, before ending up at Iowa State.After a falling out with Cyclones coach Greg McDermott, Johnson ended up at Syracuse and the rest was recent history. Thirty wins and a No. 1 ranking later, it was a tough decision, but for Johnson, it was time to move on to somewhere he envisioned himself years ago.‘Somewhere warm,’ Johnson laughed. ‘But just going to the NBA in general is a blessing.’  [email protected]center_img Commentslast_img

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