Despite heart condition, Johnson cleared to practice with Longhorns

Updated: October 11, 2007, 3:27 PM ET
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

Texas trainer Fred Burnett cleared incoming freshman Gary Johnson to practice beginning Friday, but a determination on whether he will be cleared to take part in games will be made at a later date, the school announced.

Johnson was held back from basketball-related activities in June when a reported heart condition was found. The school allowed Johnson to participate in individual workouts once school started in late August, but it wasn't until Thursday that he was cleared to participate in official practice.

Zeke Smith, Johnson's coach at Houston-area Aldine High School, told ESPN.com that Johnson told him he had been going through individual workouts the past month.

Texas officials declined to specify the exact nature of Johnson's heart condition.

The plan, according to a source, is to monitor Johnson throughout practice and then evaluate him. That's the reason why Texas won't come out and say Johnson will definitely be cleared for game competition as well. The university wants to keep an open timetable and have the situation continue to be fluid as they observe Johnson.

The 6-7 Johnson was expected to be a major impact player for the Longhorns this season as they look to replace the void created by consensus national player of the year Kevin Durant's departure to the NBA.

Texas does return the Big 12 preseason player of the year in sophomore guard D.J. Augustin.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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