Barnes: Johnson's Return is 'Gonna Happen'

The University of Texas has yet to officially clear freshman forward Gary Johnson to play this season, but according to head coach Rick Barnes, Johnson's debut as a Longhorn this season is going to happen.

When Gary Johnson arrived at Texas, he was the top prospect in Rick Barnes' 2007 recruiting class and was expected to immediately step into the starting lineup. But his plans were derailed when it was determined by doctors that the talented 6-foot-7 freshman had a previously undiagnosed heart condition. He was not cleared to play and not just this season, but his career as a basketball player looked to be in jeopardy.

But on Tuesday, Texas head coach Rick Barnes told Inside Texas Johnson's time waiting on the bench is drawing to close and that his return to the court is 'gonna happen.'

Johnson has yet to be cleared officially, but according to Barnes, he has been going through all of the normal workouts and conditioning with the team and has held up fine under all the rigors of practice.

The freshman forward was allowed to participate in the Longhorns' preseason exhibition against Xavier (La.), in which he put up 13 points, six rebounds and two blocks.

One of the players who is certainly excited about Johnson's return is point guard D.J. Augustin. Johnson brings a powerful inside-outside presence to the floor, which will help open up the outside shooters even more. Augustin also said that Johnson will bring some shooting over his own to the game.

"(Johnson's return) is going to be a great help, especially rebounding and defensively because that's what he does best and he also can score," said Augustin. "A lot of people don't know he can score. He's going to help us out a lot."

Johnson averaged 26 points and 13 rebounds a game his senior year at Aldine High School. Augustin told Inside Texas that even though the freshman has a lot of athleticism and potential to begin with, he's already seen great improvement ever since Johnson was allowed to participate fully in practice.

"He's practicing and getting better," said Augustin. "He's going to be a great help to our team and hopefully we can keep going further."

It is still unknown when Texas will officially clear Johnson to play in Texas' games. The No. 8 Longhorns are at 5-0 on the season and take on Texas Southern at the Erwin Center on Wednesday.

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