San Diego State will play against Point Loma at Viejas Arena on Tuesday night in one of the most anticipated games of non-conference play.
Most anticipated? But it's a game versus a Division-II opponent that the #18/15 Aztecs should handle easily.
It's more about a particular someone rather than the game itself.
When SDSU runs onto the floor tonight they will have an extra man in uniform standing at 6-foot-9, 235 pounds and wearing the #12.
The game will mark the debut of Virginia transfer James Johnson.
Aztec fans have been patiently waiting for this day for over a year.
"Strong, rebounds the ball, very competitive which I like because I'm a competitive person, and he's willing to do whatever it takes to win," SDSU forward Jamaal Franklin said of Johnson. "If Coach Fisher told him he has to bring the ball up, I'm sure James Johnson will find a way to bring the ball up."
"He's very competitive and strong and he has nice little post moves in the post, and he's going to bring a lot of depth for us when he comes back and I can't wait for him to come back."
While he has been competitive in practice, a collegiate basketball game is a whole different animal. Since graduating high school in 2010, Johnson has played a total of 37 minutes in six games.
Heck, the redshirt sophomore has yet to make a field goal in college with all nine of his post high school points coming from the charity stripe.
At first the adjustment period will tough for Johnson, trying to get acclimated into the flow of a college game.
"He has not played competitively in a long time, so I think it will be nice that we'll be able to give him an opportunity to play a little bit before we go to Hawaii and so he's going to have a baptism of fire in the next couple of weeks, which he's very excited and looking forward to," SDSU head coach Steve Fisher explained.
Once Johnson gets adjusted to speed of the game he will try to build upon the chemistry with his teammates from practice and carry it over to the game.
"I want to say he's getting more comfortable with us," Franklin explained. "I think that's the most important thing. When he came in, he was already a great player, but I think he got way more comfortable with us in the system now. Because playing in the ACC with Virginia is probably a little different than us. We are more fast paced, guard-dominated team, and I feel he feels more comfortable with us that he's ready to come back and ready to do his role."
The transition will be needed a little sooner rather than later as SDSU will travel to Hawaii this weekend for the Diamond Head Classic. Aztecs have an opening game against University of San Francisco on Saturday and possible Christmas Day finals match-ups versus #4/5 Arizona.
So expect Johnson to compete for minutes right out of the gate, challenging most improved player Deshawn Stephens and defensive impact freshman Skylar Spencer.
"We are going to have another big body in a spot that if you say, where do we need the most help in, size," Fisher said. "So we have size and strength."
With SDSU now having front-court depth It will be interesting to see if Fisher tries out some two-big lineups with Johnson playing alongside Stephens or Spencer.
Aztec fans will get their first look tonight.
James Johnson's Aztec Debut
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