Johnson still trying to get eligible for college
McDonald's All-American Amir Johnson, a Louisville signee, has entered his name into the NBA draft, coach Rick Pitino said Saturday.
Johnson will not retain an agent and could pull out of the draft -- but not necessarily because of on-the-court performance. Johnson is not yet academically eligible to play college basketball as a freshman, but if his academic status improves he could take his name out of the draft and join the Cardinals for 2005-06.
"This is sort of an out if he can't get his grades," Pitino said. "He needs to get his SAT score up. If he gets his score up, he'll come to Louisville.
"He would go if he was a first-round draft choice. He's not a first-round draft choice."
Pitino said the 6-foot-9 Los Angeles Westchester High School product is taking the SAT again next week. Johnson averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds per game as a senior.
Johnson is considered the star of a seven-man Louisville recruiting class that is ranked among the nation's best. With the departure of post players Ellis Myles and Otis George from the Cardinals' Final Four team, Johnson would figure to step into immediate playing time if he comes to school.
Louisville already lost junior swingman Francisco Garcia to early entry. The junior has signed with an agent and will not return for his senior season. Last year Pitino lost signees Sebastian Telfair and Donta Smith before they ever played a game in a Cardinal uniform.
Another signee, 7-footer Clarence Holloway from Chicago, had said earlier in the spring that he was mulling an NBA jump if he were not academically eligible. Pitino said Holloway will either attend prep school or come to Louisville, and that the NBA is out of the picture.
"Everyone and their sister has come out," Pitino said. "They must think it's the old days, with 10 rounds."
Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com.