Johnson chooses Clemson over LSU
Clemson is the first school to benefit from Tim Floyd's abrupt resignation as coach at USC.
Former USC recruit Noel Johnson decided Friday to play for the Tigers and coach Oliver Purnell. Johnson told ESPN.com that he chose Clemson over LSU, a few weeks after asking out of the national letter of intent he signed with USC.
The 6-foot-7-inch Johnson, ranked No. 30 on the ESPNU 100, is expected to help the Tigers' void on the perimeter. Clemson lost senior guard K.C. Rivers and then sophomore guard Terrence Oglesby when he opted to play in Europe instead of returning for his junior season.
"When they sat me down on my visit, they showed me how much I can do for them," Johnson said. "I know I can help them at the two, three and even the one."
The Tigers have one of the top forwards in the country in Trevor Booker, who just made the World University Games team in Colorado Springs.
Johnson, a Fayetteville, Ga., native, was part of a vaunted recruiting class at USC with Renardo Sidney, Derrick Williams (La Mirada, Calif.) and Lamont Jones (Oak Hill Academy, Va.). Sidney signed with Mississippi State, while the Trojans let Williams and Jones out from their letters of intent.
Johnson said he began to look elsewhere after Floyd flirted with the Arizona job in April. After an allegation emerged that Floyd had paid $1,000 to O.J. Mayo handler Rodney Guillory, Johnson had had enough.
"After that happened, I wanted to get out," Johnson said.
Johnson said all the releases came with the condition they would not go to Pac-10 schools.
Johnson now joins a perimeter at Clemson led by returnees David Potter, Tanner Smith and Demontez Stitt. Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said earlier this week while watching Booker in Colorado Springs that he expected incoming freshman Donte Hill (Norfolk Collegiate School, Va.) to be a key perimeter shooter, too. Adding Johnson will help the Tigers' chances of returning to the NCAA tournament.
Johnson said he wasn't sure where Williams or Jones would land but is intrigued to see where his one-time recruiting classmates will end up playing next season.
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.