Justin Johnson not only leads Western Kentucky in scoring and rebounding, but the opposing coaches are now taking notice that he's the player that makes the Toppers roll.
Just ask Ralph Willard.
Willard, the head coach at Western Kentucky from 1990-94, is now an assistant coach for Rick Pitino at Louisville and spoke for the Cardinals as the two teams set to meet on Saturday at noon in the KFC Yum Center.
The veteran coach called Johnson "a problem" for the Cardinals.
"He presents a lot of problems," Willard said of the 6-foot-7 standout. "He's a real offensive thrat down lowand he's so much stronger than he was last year. I saw a tape of a game last year, he's physically a lot stronger."
Johnson averages 17.2 points and 8.4 rebounds a game, hitting 64.8 percent from the field. He has a team-high 34 offensive rebounds and is second on the team in blocks (8) and fourth in assists (16).
"He's a workhose guy with very good low post moves," Willard said. "He has a relentless attitude. He's one of those kids who looks at every shot as an opportunity for him to score the basketball. He's always going to the class."
Willard said he's also more athletic than many people believe by just watching a few tapes.
"He has a lot more bounce than people give him credit for," he said. "He has some real bounce."
The game is slated for noon on Saturday.