May 24, 2013

Johnson heading to The City

Kevin McCarthy

With a 21-7 season record, 7-3 in the Bay Valley League, now in the rear view mirror, it was get serious time about choosing the right college for Heritage High's George Johnson. He evaluated his options and recently decided to make a 55 mile move west.

photo of George Johnson

Johnson just signed his national-letter-of-intent and will become an Urban Knight at Academy of Art University in San Francisco. It's a program headed by former Stanford backcourter Julius Barnes.

There are multiple reasons behind Johnson's selection.

“I really liked the coaching staff, they were really honest with me,” Johnson explained. “They are working really hard to become a winning program and I would like to try to help them accomplish that. Coach Barnes was a point guard and I feel that I can learn a lot from him. A full-ride athletic scholarship is also a nice part of it too. Getting my college education paid for has been one of my goals all along. The fact that I'm still in the Bay Area and my family will get a chance to come to the Kezar Pavillion and watch me play is pretty cool too.”

Plus, the Urban Knights jumped in Barnes' initial year from two to seven wins in conference play. The program is relatively new, being only in its fifth year of existence.

About his latest signee, Coach Barnes offered, “We are excited to welcome George to the Urban Knight family. He has consistently shown the ability to run a team and can score in bunches when needed. Those attributes, along with his work ethic, will allow George to have an immediate impact on the court next year.”

Academy of Art University is a private institution heavily invested in game and graphic design, visual effects and animation and multimedia communications and Johnson is looking to major in multimedia with an emphasis on sports broadcasting. Being in a big city in a big entertainment state should provide employment opportunities post-college. Johnson is a fan in particular of Kenny Smith's basketball analysis.

The school is in the PacWest Conference, the largest NCAA DII conference in the western region, which also includes Dominican University, Holy Names, Notre Dame de Namur, Azusa Pacific, Fresno Pacific, Dixie State (Utah), Point Loma (San Diego), California Baptist, Hawaii Pacific, Hawaii Hilo, BYU-Hawaii and Chaminade, so being on display locally will take place for Johnson as well as a mid-winter trip to the islands.

Leading scorer Amir Shamsud-din is graduating and he was also second in assists on the team. The top passer of 2012-13 is sophomore-to-be Bryan Fisher but he will likely be moving into more of a role as a scorer so the opportunity will be there to earn playing time at the point.

So what will Urban Knight fans be seeing from the 2012 Don Bambauer Classic Most Valuable Player?

“My shooting and ability to get my teammates the ball. I like to push the tempo and really work on defense. Also my desire to win is pretty strong.”

Johnson's summer plans include a lot of conditioning, lifting and developing more of my basketball skills. A chill out family trip to Disneyland is also on the agenda.

He cites his biggest influence as “my Dad. He's always been in my corner and, if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be where I am today. We've put a lot of time in it together and had fun along the way.”

Two moments stand out for Johnson as his most enjoyable on the court: “Getting to the state championship game as a sophomore when I was at De La Salle and also beating rival Deer Valley 93-80 at home this past season. I scored 29 points in that game and we got the W.”