FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Two former Arkansas Razorback basketball players have completed preliminary round play in the 2006 FIBA World Championships in Japan with one advancing to the finals and the other being eliminated.
Joe Johnson, who played for the Hogs in 2000 and 2001, and his USA teammates finished first in Group D pool play, going 5-0, and face Australia (2-3) on Sunday, Aug. 27, in the first round.
Dionisio Gomez, who lettered at Arkansas from 2000-2003, played for Panama, which went 0-5 in Group B.
The top four teams in each of the four groups advance to the finals.
Through five games, Johnson, a current member of the Atlanta Hawks, is averaging 6.8 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists. He started in the 103-58 victory over Senegal and finished with 11 points, four rebounds and three assists. In the 121-90 victory over China, he had 11 points and two assists. In the 111-100 win over Puerto Rico, he had nine points.
Gomez, who has been playing professionally in Argentina, was fifth on his team in scoring with 6.0 points while adding 1.8 rebounds. He had 10 points and two rebounds in the 86-75 loss to New Zealand, and scored nine points against both Germany and Spain.
At Arkansas, Gomez started 71 of 116 games, and averaged 4.5 points and 4.2 rebounds for his career. As a junior in 2002, he averaged 5.1 points and 5.0 rebounds while shooting .526 from the floor (61-116). As a senior, he averaged 8.3 points and 6.6 rebounds while shooting .467 from the field (91-195). He led the team in rebounding and field goal percentage as both a junior and senior.
Johnson just completed his first season with the Hawks, starting all 82 games and averaging career highs of 20.2 points, 6.5 assists and 40.7 minutes. He also averaged 4.1 rebounds while shooting 45.3 percent from the floor, 35.6 percent on threes and a career-best 79.1 percent at the line. He was 18th in the league in scoring, third in minutes played (3,340), sixth in minutes per game, 14th in assists, 16th in field goal attempts and 17th in field goals made. In 2005 for Phoenix, he played in 82 games for the third straight season, and averaged 17.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists. In 2004, he was ninth in voting for the 2003-04 NBA Most Improved Player Award after averaging 16.7 points (37th in NBA), 4.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists (29th in NBA) and 1.1 steals while averaging 40.6 minutes (third in NBA). He was one of only 11 NBA players in 2003-04 to average more than 16 points, four rebounds and four assists, and eight of those players were 2004 All-Stars (Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Tracy McGrady, Ray Allen, Vince Carter, Baron Davis, Paul Pierce, Steve Francis).
In 2004, he also led the NBA in minutes played with 3,331 minutes, the third-highest single-season total in Phoenix Suns’ franchise history. In 2003, he averaged 9.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists. In 2002, he was an NBA All-Rookie second-team selection after averaging 7.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists.He was selected by Boston with the 10th pick of the 2001 NBA Draft and was traded to Phoenix on Feb. 20 of his rookie season. He was traded from Phoenix to Atlanta on Aug. 19, 2005. At Arkansas, he was a second-team freshman All-American in 2000 (Basketball Times), a second-team All-Southeastern Conference selection in 2000 and a second-team pick in 2001. In his two years with the Razorbacks, he led the team in scoring both seasons. He averaged 16.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.0 steals in 2000; and 14.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.4 steals in 2001. As a freshman, he helped the Hogs win the SEC Tournament, reach the NCAA Tournament and finish 19-15. As a sophomore, Arkansas was 20-11 and again played in the NCAA Tournament. Johnson averaged 15.0 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.7 steals for his career.
Johnson and Gomez were teammates in 2000 and 2001. Gomez averaged 1.5 points and 2.1 rebounds as a freshman, and 3.7 points and 3.2 rebounds as a sophomore.