FOS Q&A: Aaron Johnson

Former Penn State basketball player Aaron Johnson spoke by phone with Mark Brennan of FOS Monday afternoon. The power forward talked about his decision to leave the program, his relationship with Nittany Lion coach Ed DeChellis, fellow former PSU player Sharif Chambliss and other topics.

The interview with Johnson was conducted in FOS Big Ten format, which, in honor of the numerically challenged conference, includes 11 questions.

QUESTION 11: What went into your decision to leave?

HOJO: The press release says it all. Me and Coach had a meeting. We decided it would be best for both parties if I leave.

QUESTION 10: Why do you think it is best if you leave Penn State?

HOJO: It breaks my heart to leave here. At the same time, I think this team will be better without me. I think that core of freshmen and the people they have left, they're really going to have a good season and they're going to continue to improve. I'll be better at another place, and they'll be better off with me at another place.

QUESTION 9: When was the decision made?

HOJO: Last Thursday after our meeting [Johnson and DeChellis]. We just talked about every aspect of life and basketball and everything. It was a long meeting and a lot got accomplished. We felt this would be the best decision.

QUESTION 8: Where might you land?

HOJO: I have lot of people I'm getting in touch with and a lot of people getting in touch with me. But I'm not going to release anything about that until I know for sure. I don't want to say it and then have it be false information.

QUESTION 7: I talked to you right after the Big Ten tournament, and you talked about how difficult the year had been. How much did that play into this?

HOJO: It played into it. But it was a lot of different things. This really does break my heart, man, because I love it here. I have so much fun with the fans and the media and everybody. It's such a great school. I have nothing bad to say about the basketball program or the school. I'm just happy I had a chance to earn my way into a scholarship and to be “Googleman” and be this creature known as “Hojo.” I'm happy I got a chance to do it. Hopefully I can do it somewhere else, too.

QUESTION 6: I also asked after the Big Ten tournament if you were certain you were going to be back. You said yes. What changed?

HOJO: At the time, I answered you honestly. I wasn't trying to lie to you. I really believed that then. Just taking time off and thinking about certain things and talking to the coach swayed me to make my decision. We both came to an understanding on this. I'm on good terms with everybody. I'm just so thankful to have been given this chance to go through this ride I've gone through so far. I'm just happy. And I'm excited for the future.

QUESTION 5: I'm sure you saw what [former PSU guard] Sharif Chambliss was able to do at Wisconsin in a similar situation to yours, with only one year of eligibility left. What impact did that have on you?

HOJO: That played into it. After seeing Sharif do it and Rob Summers' team [West Virginia] nearly going to the Final Four, I think sometimes change is good. I think you'll see this guy with some goggles on sooner or later somewhere.

QUESTION 4: Is the Big Ten any kind of option? You would have to pay your own way if you stayed in the conference.

HOJO: Nothing is out of my range. My goal is to go somewhere that's established and I can play a part and get to the tournament and try to win some games. I just want to do that. Just watching these [NCAA] games has been unbelievable. I got so jealous watching it. I was mad. I really want to do that. I was proud of Sharif and what he was doing [at Wisconsin]. I think he did a hell of a job. I talked to him today, and told him that. Hopefully in a year, I can be doing the same thing. And maybe we'll get to play Penn State first round of the NCAA tournament.

QUESTION 3: What did Sharif say to you?

HOJO: I've kept in touch with him on IM. He just told me he had a hell of a run and it was the best decision he's ever made. He loved it. But he was sad to see it end.

QUESTION 2: How quickly do you hope to get things firmed up with another school?

HOJO: Oh, it will be done before May, I think. It will be done in the next two or three weeks. My decision will be made where I'm going to continue my schooling and basketball and all that stuff. Then just go from there, and try to start my Hojo, goggle play somewhere else.

QUESTION 1: So you'll let us know when it happens?

HOJO: I will. And I appreciate everything you guys [the media] have done. I even appreciate the criticism. It made me work harder.


Fight On State Top Stories