Photography: Thomas Shea

Graduate Transfer Point Guard Says He Wants to "Grow" With Coach Bruce Pearl's Auburn Tigers

Ronnie Johnson, who plans to finish his college basketball playing days as an Auburn Tiger, talks about his goals for his goals for the 2016-17 season.

Houston, Tex.-- Ronnie Johnson and recent Auburn basketball teams have something in common they hope to change with help from the graduate transfer.

“Our goal is to definitely get to the (NCAA) tournament this year and I have never been,” Johnson tells Inside the Auburn Tigers.

A six-foot-point guard, who announced on Monday he is making a move from the University of Houston to Auburn, Johnson will be immediately eligible to compete for Coach Bruce Pearl’s Tigers for the 2016-17 season.

“I am graduating on May 13th and I will be on campus in Auburn maybe the 19th, 20th or 21st, somewhere around there,” he says, noting he is eager to get on the practice court with his new teammates.

“I am ready to get to know these guys’ games and get this thing going so we can build it and learn how to handle tough situations in games and grow with each other,” Johnson says.

The point guard notes that his up-tempo style of play should fit in with what Pearl is looking for at that position. “He wants somebody who will play fast and someone who has a competitive edge to him. The way Auburn plays is something I looked at and also that Coach Pearl is a great coach.”

Asked to comment on what he does well, Johnson says, “I think I am a good leader on the floor. I think my experience helps me in a lot of situations. I take responsibility and accountability on defense. I like to get my teammates involved and I like to move the ball. I think I can take advantage of certain matchups.

“I really like to use the pick and roll a lot and take what the defense gives me,” he adds. “I am really good at transition, running the break and finding the open guys on the court.”

Last season at Houston, after sitting out a year following a transfer there from Purdue, Johnson averaged 9.4 points, 2.9 assists and 2.6 rebounds per contest. He shot 40.4 percent from the field while making 35.7 percent of his threes (25-70) and 80 percent of his free throws.

Becoming better at the three-point shot has been a point of emphasis for the guard. “My first two years I didn’t really shoot it too well,” he says. As a freshman at Purdue he hit just 6-36 threes (16.7 percent) and as a sophomore he hit 17-56 (30.4 percent).

“This past year I shot it much better after taking a year off and getting in the gym to work on my jump shot.”

Johnson is expected to share the point guard duties with incoming freshman Jared Harper. “I think he is a real smart point guard,” Johnson says of Harper. “I would love to play beside someone who is willing to learn and will help me at the same time.”

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