Amir Johnson to play in McDonald's game tonight

For the second year in a row, a University of Louisville signee will play in the McDonald's All-American game. And the big question for Louisville coach Rick Pitino is whether or not 6-9 Amir Johnson will follow Sebastian Telfair to the NBA or elect to play for the Cardinals next season.

6-9 Louisville signee Amir Johnson will play in the McDonald's All-American game in South Bend, Indiana tonight.

Johnson averaged 21 points and 15 rebounds as a senior, leading Westchester High to the Los Angeles city championship, and a California state title.

When Johnson signed a national letter of intent last November, Louisville coach Rick Pitino had landed a McDonald's All-American for the second straight year. The first, Sebastian Telfair, never played for Louisville, instead heading directly to the NBA after his senior year at Brooklyn, New York's Lincoln High.

Whether or not Johnson will follow Telfair's lead and by-pass Louisville for the NBA remains to be seen. And while his ultimate decision remains unclear, two things appear certain. One, Johnson's not likely to have a major shoe endorsement deal in hand before the draft as Telfair did. And unlike Telfair, though NBA scouts like his potential and athleticism, Johnson doesn't appear viewed by NBA decision-makers as a sure-fire first round selection - meaning he'd receive no guaranteed salary or roster spot next season.


Johnson's performance in the McDonald's
All-American game may determine whether
he plays in the NBA or at Louisville next
season.

While playing for Pitino at Louisville still appears a possibility, Johnson said last week after a 17 point, 4 rebound performance in the EA Sports Roundball Classic that he'd make the jump to the NBA under optimal circumstances.

"So far I'm going to Louisville, but if I'm a lottery pick I'll probably go," he said.

Tonight in South Bend, Johnson once again will have a chance to showcase his skills to NBA coaches and scouts. How well he performs could go a long way in determining whether he'll suit up for Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals next season, or join Sebastian Telfair in the NBA.

It's probably a safe bet that Pitino's hoping to bat .500 with his McDonald's All-American signees.

EAST Korvotney Barber (Auburn), Eric Boateng (Duke), Andrew Bynum (UCONN), Brandon Costner (N.C. State), Eric Devendorf (Syracuse), Danny Green (North Carolina), Gerald Green (Ok. St.), Richard Hendrix (Alabama), Josh McRoberts (Duke), Tasmin Mitchell (LSU), Greg Paulus (Duke), Louis Williams (Georgia)

WEST Jon Brockman (Washington), Mario Chalmers (Kansas), Micah Downs (Kansas), Byron Eaton (Ok. St.), Monta Ellis (Mississippi State), Bobby Frasor (North Carolina), Tyler Hansbrough (North Carolina), Amir Johnson (Louisville), Calvin Miles (Texas), Martell Webster (Washington), Julian Wright (Kansas), Luke Zeller (Notre Dame)

NOTES

  • The Big East will be well represented in tonight's game. Besides Amir Johnson, Connecticut's 7-0 Andrew Bynum, 6-4 Syracuse-bound Eric Devendorf, and 6-11 Notre Dame signee Luke Zeller will also play.

  • The game will be televised live on ESPN at 8 P.M. EST.


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