Elijah Johnson found out last weekend that folks of all ages in Kentucky are serious about their basketball.
“We went to a kids hospital to do some charity work,” Johnson, Kansas University’s 6-foot-2 basketball signee from Las Vegas’ Cheyenne High, said in beginning to spin his favorite tale from the Derby Classic in Louisville, Ky.
“I told one of the kids I was going to Kansas. The kid hid from me under his pillow. He didn’t want to shake my hand. He was crying,” Johnson added with a laugh.
Johnson, who chose KU over Oklahoma, Texas and others, playfully drew the wrath of the fans in Louisville’s Freedom Hall when he waved a KU shirt during pregame introductions. He also wore a KU T-shirt during warmups.
“The crowd was crazy. It wasn’t boring,” Johnson said.
Johnson, who scored 11 points and had eight assists in the Black Team’s 151-145 loss to the Gold, had the fans on his side at the end of last Saturday’s game.
He raced in for a breakaway dunk — one in which he passed the ball through his legs before jamming it home — to conclude the action. Tape of the dunk is available at the Web address www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpgtx0YsxJA&NR;=1.
“It wasn’t a big thing for me. I’ve done it enough times,” Johnson said.
“One a scale of 1-10 I’d give it a 5.5 or 6. I was too tired. I could barely stand up,” Johnson added, noting he’s just now getting back into tip-top shape after resting the knee he injured during his senior season at Cheyenne High.
He’s 100 percent healed heading into Saturday night’s Reebok All-American Game at American University in Washington, D.C. He’ll be on the same team as fellow KU signee Thomas Robinson.
“I didn’t know we were on the same team. It’ll be fun, a little preview of next year,” Johnson said.
He’s hoping to slam a time or two Saturday.
“I’ve got a good vocabulary of dunks,” Johnson said.
•Henry update: Johnson said he hasn’t spoken with blue-chip recruit Xavier Henry of late.
“I’m trying to stay out of his ear. It’s what everybody wants to talk to him about. I’m trying to not bother him,” Johnson said of his buddy, a 6-6 guard from Oklahoma City who is considering KU and Kentucky after being released from his Memphis letter of intent.
Henry told ESPN.com on Thursday at a Jordan Brand Classic practice session he will “decide within a week” between the two schools. He said he would not consider attending Memphis, but hours later told Zagsblog.net Memphis still was on his list.
Of KU, Henry said: “When my dad received a DVD of their 2008 national championship season, I watched it 50 times. It gave me chills.”
Of Kentucky, he said: “Cal (coach John Calipari) has a feel for building a program. He makes you already feel a part of the program and wants you to succeed. He’ll tell you honestly if you are ready for the NBA.”
•Orton to stay put?: It looks as if Daniel Orton will remain a Kentucky Wildcat.
Orton, a 6-foot-10, 260-pound senior center from Oklahoma City’s McGuinness High who signed with the Wildcats when Billy Gillispie was coach, told Zagsblog.net on Thursday that he will attend UK and play for Calipari. He had considered asking out of his letter and attending KU.