Coach Barnes will start freshman Gary Johnson against TCU on Wednesday afternoon, in place of struggling guard Justin Mason. This will be the first live game action of the year from the freshman.
Johnson is a 6-7, 235 lb. freshman power forward from Houston Adline High School. Last summer, UT doctor's discovered that Johnson suffered from an undisclosed heart condition. It was unclear whether Johnson, a high school
McDonald's Parade All American and the jewel of last year's recruiting class, would ever play for the Longhorns. Shortly before practice began this fall, Johnson was cleared to participate in practices and individual workouts but not cleared to play in games.
The only time the public has seen Johnson play was against Xavier (La) in a pre-season scrimage. I attended that scrimmage and wrote this in the review:
The final ‘Horn to really play solidly was freshman Gary Johnson. Barnes didn’t insert him into the game until about halfway through the first half, but he was an instant contributor: 13 points and six boards in just 19 minutes of action. Johnson lived up to the hype and then some. He is like a pogo stick on the glass, showed an ability to rebound outside of his area, and already had a solid frame. Very few college post players are going to be able to push him around. As long as he is cleared, don’t be surprised to see Gary Johnson become a double-double machine by conference time.
Johnson was not cleared to play in games until just the other day, and his addition could not come at a better time. The Texas starters are playing way too many minutes; the Longhorns are starting to get outmuscled and outrebounded on the glass on both ends; Justin Mason is in a terrible offensive slump; and even after an 11-0 start, it was clear that this team could not become elite without a post presence.
Gary Johnson is that post presence.
While it is very easy to say that Gary will solve many of the Horns' woes and instantly put them back into contention for a conference title and a deep run in March, in this case, I think our wishful thinking will come to fruition. Johnson will bring a post scoring threat, defensive intensity, the ability to rebound on both ends, and, maybe most importantly, added depth to the Horns.
Even with the back to back losses, I am now more excited about this team than at any point this season.
11-2 Before Gary (B.G.)
?? After Gary (A.G.)