Monday, June 15, 2009

KU hoops players welcome Johnson


Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Freshman guard Elijah Johnson talks about why he decided to choose KU

Freshman guard Elijah Johnson talks about why he decided to choose KU.

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KU freshman Elijah Johnson arrives

Incoming freshman guard Elijah Johnson arrived at KU just a few days after his high school graduation.

Elijah Johnson doesn’t expect any good-natured ribbing or hazing from Kansas University’s basketball veterans in coming days.

“Nah, that’s not how the players are here. They try to make you feel as comfortable as they can,” said Johnson, Kansas University’s 6-foot-2 freshman guard from Las Vegas’ Cheyenne High who graduated Thursday and arrived to a warm welcome in Lawrence on Saturday afternoon.

“They want everybody to be at their top point. You can’t get somebody to their top point coming down on them like they are freshmen,” added Johnson, who averaged 15.9 points and 3.9 assists per game his senior season.

Johnson was happy — almost relieved —to be signing autographs for coach Bill Self’s campers for two hours Sunday, his first official assignment as a member of KU’s team.

“I’m a little tired. We did a lot after graduation,” Johnson said of him and family members back in Vegas. “I’m really happy to be on campus, having fun, learning a little something from coach and playing some basketball finally.

“I’m pretty sure I’m going to be happy — a little homesick, but more so happy.”’s No. 24-rated player in the Class of 2009 has realistic expectations for his first collegiate season.

“Giving an extra boost of energy that they didn’t have last year even if it’s from the sideline,” Johnson said. “I’m just ready to help the team out, being more so a point guard and being able to make open shots and playing defense 24-7. Well, not 24-7, it’s not high school anymore. But playing defense 40 minutes a game if I had to.”

Johnson is known for his athleticism, which he exhibited on the vicious dunk that concluded the Derby Classic all-star game in Louisville.

He grinned when asked to reveal his vertical leap in inches.

“I don’t know. The last time I checked it was 39, and that was my freshman year of high school,” he said. “Actually, that’s something I want to find out real soon. I’m thinking it’s 43, 44 or something.”

He’s hoping to put down some slams that impress his hero, KU senior guard Sherron Collins.

“He’s been here the longest. I’ve been wanting to play with him since his freshman year,” the longtime KU fan said. “We’ve got some trademarks. He did some crazy dunks at the end of some all-star games, and I have, too. He’s a big-dog senior that already has a lot of NBA teams looking at him. I will look at Sherron and learn how to get as much out of this experience as I can.”

He’ll immediately begin bonding with Jayhawker Towers roommate Thomas Robinson, a fellow freshman who arrived last week and has been waiting patiently for Johnson to arrive.

“He was my roommate at the Reebok game out in D.C.,” Johnson said. “It felt good to know he’s my roommate here. We’ve got a little chemistry already. We pretty much know about each other.”

Johnson didn’t even hog the space in the duo’s apartment.

“Nah, we both got the room we wanted. We’re all right,” Johnson said. “I think he was happy to see me (Saturday).”


Eurekahwk 10 years, 11 months ago

But EJ, you ARE a freshman. And it will not be all roses and fun in the sun. You will get your ass handed to you, and the coach will come down on you like you were his worst enemy. Its called breaking your ego, and all coaches and players love to do it to the rookies. If you can handle it, you and the University of Kansas will be all the better for it.

basquiat 10 years, 11 months ago

Eurekahwk, I'm not seeing much of an ego to break. It sounds as if he gets the big picture of what it means to be a Jayhawk already. Either way, I love what I am seeing/hearing. Sounds like he will be easy to root for.

K_Easthouse 10 years, 11 months ago

EJ sounds like a standout amongst many other players in his class around the country: he sounds intelligent with his rationale for his school decision and doesn't come off as regurgitating canned responses. Looking forward to seeing what this kid can do on the court.

Jeff Kilgore 10 years, 11 months ago

Geez, Ehawk, if that's what you call, "Welcome to KU," stop posting! I'm pretty sure that EJ knows that it's not high school anymore. If you read the article, he says that.

chicagoeddie 10 years, 11 months ago

welcome EJ, have fun its gonna be a great year!

Kevin Long 10 years, 11 months ago

Good to see someone who loves to play D!

Kent Wells 10 years, 11 months ago

Very enlighning Eureka. Now go back to being an OU football fan.

Read the article. This kid is great. Even talking about how he can come in off the pine and help. Can't wait to watch this kid hoop!



HAWKTOPIA 10 years, 11 months ago

EJ , we are all in this together. Welcome, and don't hit your head on the rim!

Tony Bandle 10 years, 11 months ago

Isn't this the high school recruit that proudly displayed a Jayhawk shirt in front of a hostile crowd?

C' gotta love it. I think his ego will be the LAST thing that will cause a problem. His main challenge will be, as it is for virtually all freshmen, the adjustment to the speed, strength and skill level required to excel at the elite Div. One program at KU and I feel he will be up to the challenge!!

Like Mr. Robinson, I have followed this kid for three years....Jayhawk Nation, I guarantee you're going to love Elijah " The Prophet" Johnson!!!

jaybate 10 years, 11 months ago

} Re: Gary Bedore

“I’m a little tired. We did a lot after graduation,” Johnson said of him and family members back in Vegas. --Gary Bedore story about EJ's arrival in Lawrence, KS

I have waited years for this moment. I have finally found something to criticize in Gary Bedore's diction. Vegas? This makes him sound more like Jimmy the Greek than my beloved basketball beat writer and throw back to the days when sports writers could actually write.

(Digression: does anyone still remember Snyder, the bookmaker CBS Sports used to help re-introduce the fox of gambling into the hen house of college basketball?)

But wait!

Gary used the proper form, Las Vegas in the lead and so technically, I suppose, he is within his AP Style rights, depending on interpretation, to shorten Las Vegas to Vegas. It is, afterall, fewer words and one does understand exactly what he means.

Oh, heck, I guess I will have to keep waiting after all.

Still, Gary, there is something about that abbreviation to Vegas that undermines the part of your writing that I love the most.

When I read your copy, I get to enjoy what I think is a civilized and challenging game being played. How lean and unpretentious can writing get with out resorting to Vegas?

Anyone can use slang to write lean.

It takes a real pro to write lean with the proper terms of the language.

You are a real pro and do so 99.99% of the time.

Hence, I felt a little disappointed, when I saw you cut a corner that way.

(Note: for those of you who may think I am "bad-mouthing" Mr. Bedore, let me say that Mr. Bedore is to sports writing gaffs what Brady Morningstar was to turn-overs last year; i.e., he makes almost none.)

} Re: Nick Krug

Once again, I must ask whither Nick Krug? Are we really going to have to go through the coming season without his pictures?

Joe Baker 10 years, 11 months ago

EJ- Welcome to KU! You have a great attitude and already a good fanbase. Keep up the work ethic and learn from Sherron. He will treat you right!!

It's great to have you.


jaybate 10 years, 11 months ago


Complete concurrence on The Prophet! You can hear the right stuff in this guy's quotes. If words could walk, this guys would swagger. And the beauty of his words are that they fall shy of the dread braggadocio. They just resonate with life force. I haven't heard this much right stuff from a newbie since Sherron, and you know how terrific I think Sherron has been.

Dirk Medema 10 years, 11 months ago

The skill and athleticism to be a top recruit are great, but anyone that actually read the article has got to love to hear the humility that goes with the pride that we have already read about. Yes, EJ was the 'Hawk that waved the KU shirt in Lexington, KY.

Anyone that comes in talking about his ability to come off the bench, and provide energy even when he is on the bench is very. My guess is that being able to play against Sherron, Tyshawn, and even Brady, Tyrel and the others for the next 5 months (CJ/X for 3) will have him adjusted to the speed and non-stop intensity by game time.

I thought the length of the season to season was the big deal for freshmen, but the fact that he will be able to come off the bench, and not necessarily even be the 1st or 2nd option, should make him, Tyshawn, ..., that much fresher down the stretch.

Gotta love that he, Mr Robinson, and X are all looking forward to learning D from Coach. It should rub off on some other recent recruits (MM) that took longer to learn what is most important to pursue. O comes easy. D must be pursued.

This is going to be a fun team. Rock Chalk

dhawk31 10 years, 11 months ago

Sounds like he has a great attitude and will be very coachable. Welcome Elijah!

nash_hawk 10 years, 11 months ago

Welcome EJ! We look forward to your future successes as a Jayhawk. You are off to a great start!

On an unrelated topic, are those Kentucky fans I hear starting to jump off of their roofs?

Probably not jumping yet, but their national championship prophecies just took a big hit. Without Meeks and with the eligibility of their two prize new ballers still in question, it would be just desserts if they only ended up with 10 scholarship players on the roster. Not a likely scenario, but one fun to think about none the less.


LAJayhawk 10 years, 11 months ago

Reading of EJ's top-notch attitude isn't a surprise to those who have been following him for a while. Yet somehow I am still amazed at how level headed and committed this kid is. High talent with great attitude is such a rare find -- especially in today's over-hyped, circus-show prep market -- that having a kid like this coming in is particularly exciting. Add to it the fact that EJ is chomping at the bit to learn from an All-American level talent with stratospheric amounts of experience in Sherron, and you have a recipe for a true Jayhawk.

This kid has it all: the talent and the heart.

"Robinson and Johnson." I have a feeling I'm going to love hearing that combination for the next couple of years....

KULA 10 years, 11 months ago

Hey Jaybate, what would you know about "lean and unpretentious" writing, lmao! I can't believe you're now critiquing the writers on this page. Well, actually I can believe it...

100 10 years, 11 months ago

Pretty easy to see who has been trolling on this site as a KU fan for the last few months -- nice try EurekaHawk.

Is Eurekahawk a Kentucky Tiger?

You UK Calimari fans are just giving our team that much more billboard material.

kufankam 10 years, 11 months ago

in the video post you can get an even better feel of what a great attitude EJ has. he points to his respect for the coaching staff as to why he came to KU. if you watch the video you get the feel that EJ will present himself to the coaches as a blank slate of modeling clay and allow them to mold him into the best player he can be. can't wait to see the process unfold! welcome EJ!!!!

Priest Fontaine 10 years, 11 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

goshenjhawk 10 years, 11 months ago

Hetero -- huh? what did that have to do with this article?

Eurekahwk 10 years, 11 months ago

I can't believe how stupid some people are. I'm just saying that before things are good, EJ will have moments in Lawrence where he will hate it. Like I said, he is a rookie. And it isn't always fun. For the record, I graduated from KU. And there were times when I hated Lawrence as a freshman. And I grew up as a KU fan. So f#ck all you of you who think I cheer for OU, UK or anyone else.

hailtoku 10 years, 11 months ago

Anyone else wish Xavier would act a little more like E.J.?

Alex Berger 10 years, 11 months ago

Welcome EJ!!! Let's bring home the championship!

FTUCH3432 10 years, 11 months ago

jaybate: what is your deal bro? do you attempt to be as annoying and pointless as possible? i doubt anyone but you cares if the writer uses Vegas or Las Vegas. If you get off on proper grammar, why don't you just sit in on some english classes all day and not pretend that your ideas are at all relevant to Kansas Basketball?

Martin Shupert 10 years, 11 months ago

you reek a hawk?

Sure, he'll have challenges, but to say coaches love to break a player? dumb. Sure, the coaches will get on his case. I've seen it happen. But breaking a player? You sound like the coaching staff waterboards these kids. Yes, the players all came from places where they were seen as basketball Gods and yes, they do need a reality check, but break them? Maybe you were just a tad shrill. Of course, they will criticize with passion. But it won't last very long when a kid has an attitude like this. I remember when Cole Aldrich lost every possession to the guards at Late Night. That's what you're saying, I'm sure. Just don't get so entrenched in your over statements. He'll take the criticism like Mario did and up his game... He won't give the coaches a chance to break him, even if they love to do so. Man, you'd think Bill Self went to Bobby Knight school. Let's just see how much fun this kid has and how much fun Coach Self has coaching him. I'm assuming things run more positive than negative.

emillasap 10 years, 11 months ago

Dagger says:

 " Gotta love that he, Mr Robinson, and X are all looking forward to learning D from   Coach. It should rub off on some other recent recruits (MM) that took longer to learn what is most important to pursue. O comes easy. D must be pursued.

I understand your sentiment; however, I respectfully disagree. I find the offense Coach Self and his staff implement to be quite complex. Defense the Self way is more a function of effort than learning, Self has said as much on many occasions. The only thing that can stop this team, other that injuries, is lack of offensive chemistry. Each dancer must know his steps for the routine to go well.

That said, if the defensive effort is there it will equate to lots of first shot rebounds with Cole and the gang firing outlets for fastbreaks. The transition game KU will be able to play this year will make them tough to beat, which I find delightfully ironic. If they can master the steps to the half court sets, I will reticently say, they might not lose at all. I realize no losses is a lofty goal; however, I find it fully within the realm of possibility if team chemistry and internal competition are off the charts.

I eagerly await to watch it unfold. I find KU basketball a more satisfying drama than any tv series or movie. Although, it's just a game right?

Sam Burns 10 years, 11 months ago

Hang in there EurekaHawk. Not all of us over-reacted to your comments. You've had some nice comments in the past. But,,,,,,,,,, there was no need to get so defensive! (So f#ck all of you............)???????

Sam Burns 10 years, 11 months ago

EurekaHawk, are you the booster in Eureka that helped bring the KU grad players to Eureka to play against the high school area all-stars in the past years? If so, I'd like to say thanks!!!!!!! My daughter got to play in that game in '99. It is one of her fondest memories.

100 10 years, 11 months ago


I believe you now that I see you stick up for yourself. I just know that some freshmen get it already and won't hate it -- they get (understand) hard work's purpose and deep down want to be better & know what it will take. Guts & intelligence.

That's why they've signed here. Thats why four of our recruits chose Self over the "easy" SAT ballot box stuffing ways of Mr. Probation , John Calipari (Mc Morris, Mk Morris, CJ, X)

If anyone ever listens to Darnell Jackson's words its easy to see what Self despises -- softness & turnovers.

By his words, our newest freshman shows he is ripe to learn in Self's system. That's all we can ask.

Sam Burns 10 years, 11 months ago

EurekaHawk, I noticed I put the wrong year. Got my daughters years mixed up. It was 2001. She just graduated from KU Med in May of this year!!!

Go Hawks!

kvskubball 10 years, 11 months ago


I never thought you were an OU fan!

I would have put your statement a little differently. I don't think the KU coaches try to break the players. They try to break THE IDEA that players might have that they know what tough is...

I agree that there will be times the players dislike KU and basketball, for instance, during Boot Camp!

As an example, I bet Releford didn't like basketball at KU, at times last year as his PT was non-existent much of the year. Hopefully he will come back this next year with a great attitude and a continuing desire to scrap for PT and to compete hard against X and Little, and anybody else who wants to play the 3. He's got talent, but hasn't been able to put it together. I think if he improves to the point he's getting significant PT, then that should mean that the 3 spot is taken care of, because X has loads of talent and Little has talent and experience.

I think the competition will be fierce, but I hope that the team will be able come together and to develop a positive chemistry instead of letting it have a dividing effect.

14 talented players on one team is a whole lot of talent! And all of the walk-on players work hard too! It is a good thing we have two players who are good leaders in Cole and Sherron.

Rock Chalk!

jaybate 10 years, 11 months ago


Why is it that the guys with aliases that look like the aliases used by serial killers in Wichita cut me no slack, when I just want to write Gary Bedore a little note between him and me about his craft? Do I owe a knob like you entertaining relevance every time I post? Not.

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