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Johnson Gets NBA Opportunity

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Former Azusa Pacific standout Dominique Johnson opened NBA training camp with the Minnesota Timberwolves this week.

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December 12, 2011
Joe Reinsch

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- Former Azusa Pacific basketball standout and second-year pro Dominique Johnson is one step closer to joining an NBA roster, as the two-time NAIA All-American guard is competing for a roster spot after accepting an invitation to the Minnesota Timberwolves training camp, which opened this week.

“It’s an amazing accomplishment for him, and our program is extremely proud of him,” Azusa Pacific head coach Justin Leslie said. “He’s always been humble with a great work ethic, and those characteristics have continued to develop since he left Azusa Pacific – that’s a big part of why he’s in the position he’s in now.”

He started the first four games of the current D-League season, and he was averaging a team-high 18.0 points per game through the first four games before he was invited to this week’s opening of Timberwolves training camp, which featured the first practices for a talented young Minnesota roster that includes nine top-14 NBA draft picks, including five top-five selections since 2008.

“At that level, there are a lot of talented players,” Leslie said. “Dominique has a great team-first attitude and is willing to learn, and he understands what it takes to be a professional. It’s those intangible character qualities that have made the difference to help him get this opportunity. He’s one of those guys you love having on the team, and he demonstrated that same attitude during his college career.”

Johnson finished last year with the D-League’s third-highest free throw percentage (minimum 50 attempts), sinking 52-of-58 for an .897 percentage, and he also averaged 3.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists a year ago. Through his first four games of the current D-League campaign, Johnson is averaging 18.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 2.0 steals per game.

“He’s continuing to add aspects to his game,” Leslie said. “He’s become a much more complete defender, he understands different types of schemes, and he blends really well. In every situation he’s gone into so far, he’s been asked to do a specific role, and there’s no role too small that he’s willing to do to help the team. He has expressed to me how grateful he is for all the lessons he got at Azusa Pacific, both on and off the court; as a player and a man. The best part is that he’s taken those lessons and run with it.”

Johnson averaged 17.2 points in his two years at Azusa Pacific, leading the Cougars in scoring in both the 2008-09 and 2009-10 campaigns, and he began his professional career with the NBA Development League’s Texas Legends a year ago. He played in 27 D-League games in the 2010-11 season, started 11 times, and averaged 12.5 points in his first professional campaign.