Johnson Invited to USA Basketball Trials
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas’ Joe Johnson has been invited to the USA Basketball Men’s National Team Trials to compete for a spot on the 2000 USA Basketball World Championship Young Men’s Team it was announced this week.
The 2000 trials will be held May 26-28 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., and will feature 30 of the nation’s top 20-and-younger players. The three-day trials will result in the selection of a squad that will compete in July at the 2000 COPABA World Championship for Young Men Qualifying tournament in Riberao Preto, Brazil. A final 12-member team will be selected in a training camp prior to the competition. The squad will be headed by Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim.
This will be Johnson’s second stint with USA Basketball. The Little Rock, Ark., native was a member of the 1999 USA Basketball Junior National Select team that competed at the Nike Hoop Summit in Tampa, Fla. last summer.
“There is no question any time that Joe is included in the top 30 players in the country as a youngster it is special,” Arkansas head coach Nolan Richardson says. “It’s also special for the University of Arkansas to have a young man representing it on the basketball court. I’m very pleased and I’m hoping that he will have an opportunity to make the team that will compete this summer.”
Richardson is confident that the experience will only enhance the skills of the 1999 Associated Press’ SEC Newcomer of the Year.
“The thing that makes a big difference is the opportunity to play against top players in his age group,” Richardson says. “When you compete with the top kids in the country day-in and day-out it gives you an idea of how you fit in and how good you are.”
Johnson averaged 16.0 points and 5.7 rebounds-per-game as a freshman last season. The Central High School product earned Freshman All-America honors from the Basketball Times as well as second-team All-SEC recognition from the Associated Press. Johnson was named the AP Newcomer of the Year and league coaches selected him Co-Freshman of the Year along with LSU’s Torris Bright.
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