LOS ANGELES – Clippers rookie Brice Johnson arrived at the University of North Carolina in 2012, exactly a decade after Raymond Felton.
Now, the two Tar Heel products are now set to become teammates for the first time, after Felton watched Johnson’s career at North Carolina unfold in a different fashion than his own.
Felton burst onto the scene with 12.9 points and 6.7 assists per game his freshman year, only playing three college seasons before becoming the fifth overall pick in 2005. For Johnson, the road to becoming a first-round pick took more development.
Johnson averaged 5.4 points and 3.2 rebounds in 10.6 minutes per game his freshman year with the Tar Heels, but he continued to grow and increase his contributions every season. By his senior year, Johnson served as the star player of a North Carolina team that nearly took home a title, averaging 17 points and 10.4 rebounds per game and becoming the 25th overall pick of the Clippers this year.
And Felton was paying attention.
“I used to get on him back in the day about playing hard,” Felton said. “He did that (last season), that’s why he put himself in a great situation to get drafted. My biggest thing with him is to play hard and bring it, and I’m going to demand it out of him, for sure.”
Throughout his college career, Johnson said North Carolina head coach Roy Williams stayed in his ear, constantly pushing him to take his game to another level.
Evidently, Felton was doing the same, and Felton said that’s not going to change now that the two North Carolina stars, who played a decade apart, will become teammates.
Felton added Monday after officially signing his contract with the Clippers that he wants to be a leader. Considering Johnson already knows Felton, the rookie will likely hear plenty from the 32-year-old veteran throughout the year.
“I like young fella,” Felton said. “I’m going to be on him, though.”