Jim Boeheim and Wesley Johnson

Boeheim: Johnson’s The Nicest Kid I’ve Ever Coached

LOS ANGELES – Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim didn’t need much time with Wesley Johnson to know the kind of person he had playing for him.

Boeheim, who’s once again with Team USA serving as an assistant coach, expressed before the Rio Olympics how much he loved having Johnson, who transferred to Syracuse and played one season in 2009-10 for the Orange before becoming the fourth overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

“Wesley Johnson, to me, is the nicest kid I’ve ever coached, period,” Boeheim said. “I’ve had a lot of nice kids. He’s got very, very good physical skills, and he can shoot the ball.”

That much was on display at Syracuse, where Johnson immediately became a starter following two seasons at Iowa State, earning First Team All-American and Big East Player of the Year honors and averaging 22 points per game in the NCAA Tournament.

Johnson’s highlight performance came against Gonzaga in the second round, when he scored a career-high 31 points to go with 14 rebounds, flashing the traits that made him so appealing to Minnesota, which would go on to select him in the top five of that year’s NBA Draft.

“I watch the Clippers games because he’s on the team,” Boeheim said. “Wherever our players are, I’ll stay up late and watch those games and see how he’s doing.”

Boeheim said once players join the Orange, they become family. And as part of that family, Boeheim hopes for the best for Johnson and believes there’s still another level the forward can get to after bouncing around to four teams in his first six seasons in the league.

“He could still have a bigger year; I believe that’s still possible,” Boeheim said. “I think he’s a good player; I think he can be a better player. I think he can do some things people probably don’t expect.”

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