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Purdue's Johnson headlines first pre-draft workout

by Conrad Brunner || Caught in the Web Archive ||

May 24, 2011

That two prominent power forward prospects, including Purdue's JaJuan Johnson, are in the first group due for pre-draft workouts Thursday comes as little surprise.

That position is considered one of primary need for the Pacers, who hold the No. 15 pick in the June 23 NBA Draft.

The other four members of the group, however, are either point guards or combo guards, an area where the Pacers would seem to have plenty of depth.

Johnson and Richmond's Justin Harper, two of the highest-rated senior big men in the draft, will be joined by guards Corey Fisher (Villanova), Darius Morris (Michigan), Josh Selby (Kansas) and Chris Wright (Georgetown) Thursday afternoon. The workouts are not open to the public.

Johnson, widely projected as a mid-to-late first-round prospect, was the Big 10 Player of the Year, a member of the conference's all-defensive team and a consensus All-American for the Boilermakers. The 6-10, 220-pound Johnson averaged 20.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks as a senior. Along with teammate E'Twaun Moore, Johnson played in 140 consecutive games with 107 victories, sharing the school's career records.

Though his athleticism is unquestioned, Johnson must answer questions about his strength and ability to bang inside with NBA big men.

Harper is also a slender big man (6-10, 225), who led Richmond with 17.9 points and 6.9 rebounds, shooting .534 from the field and .448 from the 3-point line. He averaged 18 points and 6.3 rebounds in the Spiders' run to the Sweet 16, including 22 points and nine rebounds against Kansas.

Selby was one of the most highly touted freshmen in the country entering Kansas but a nine-game suspension by the NCAA for accepting impermissible benefits followed by a stress fracture in his foot spoiled his season. He appeared in just 26 games, averaging 20.4 minutes, 7.9 points and 2.2 assists. At 6-3, he's undersized for a shooting guard and will have to demonstrate the ability to play both guard spots.

Morris declared for the draft after a solid sophomore season at Michigan, averaging 15.0 points and 6.7 assists.

Wright averaged 12.9 points and 5.3 assists as a senior at Georgetown but missed three games late in the season with a broken bone in his left hand and the Hoyas weren't the same. He returned for the NCAA tournament but shot just 3-of-13 in a loss to Virginia Commonwealth.

Fisher was a second-team All-Big East selection after averaging 15.6 points and 4.8 assists for Villanova. He was a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award for the nation's top point guard but was bothered by right knee tendinitis the final month of the season.