Guard Orlando Johnson, who has led UCSB to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in school history, has declared himself available for the 2011 NBA Draft. Johnson, however, has not hired an agent and retains the right to return for his final collegiate season in 2011-12.
“I think this is a great opportunity for me,” Johnson began. “If I were still at LMU (he transferred from Loyola Marymount after his freshman season) I would be a senior now, so the timing is good. With the success I’ve had early in my career, I feel as though this is a great opportunity for me to look into taking the next step.”
In his two seasons at UCSB, Johnson has proven to be one of the best players in school history. As a junior in 2010-11, he set a school record with 674 total points, averaging a Big West-leading 21.1 per game. He also averaged 6.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists per contest while making 66 three-point baskets.
Johnson was a First Team All-Big West and First Team All-District 9 honoree for the second straight year. He was also named the Most Valuable Player of the Big West Tournament for the second time in as many seasons after averaging 28.3 points per game in leading the Gauchos to their second straight title and subsequent NCAA Tournament berth.
“We are completely supportive of Orlando and his family as they look into all of his options regarding the NBA, and we are really appreciative that they are keeping us involved,” said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. “Our staff will do everything we can to help. Orlando has absolutely earned this opportunity.”
Williams and his staff will contact NBA teams in an effort to get Johnson an opportunity to workout for them.
“I really want to see what some of the teams think about my game and give them a chance to evaluate me playing against top-level competition, guys they feel are draft material.” Johnson said. “That’s the whole thing for me, showing I am holding my own at that level.”
The 2010 Big West Player of the Year, Johnson knows the areas that he needs to improve on to play professionally.
“For me to be an asset to a team, I need to be able to defend,” he said. “I’m going to be working very hard in the next couple of weeks on my defense. I’ll be watching a lot of film, looking at my tendencies. I will definitely be evaluating myself, really being critical of where I need to improve. To play in the league, I know I’m going to have to defend some of the top players. The other area I know I need to work on is ball handling and I’ll be working hard on that too.”
In just two seasons at Santa Barbara, Johnson has scored 1,214 points. Including the 383 points he scored as a freshman at Loyola Marymount, he has totaled 1,597 points in three years as a collegiate player.
In addition to breaking the UCSB record for points in a season, Johnson tied the record for points in a game when he went for 39 in a Feb. 5 win over UC Davis. He scored 30 or more points six times as a junior and in 62 games as a Gaucho, he has scored in double-figures 61 times. Johnson also set a school record for points in a conference tournament game when he had 32 in a first round win over Pacific in the 2011 tourney. He also had 30 points in the second round against Cal State Northridge and 23 in the title game victory over Long Beach State.
In his final game of the 2010-11 season, Johnson tallied 21 points in the Gauchos’ NCAA Tournament game against Florida. He had 20 in the team’s 2010 tourney game against Ohio State.