5-star guard AJ Johnson decommits from Texas, going pro in Australia

The Texas Longhorns mens basketball team suffered a significant loss on Wednesday when Adrian Wojnarowski at ESPN reported Southern California Academy (Calif.) five-star combo guard AJ Johnson has decommitted from Texas and instead will be going pro.

According to ESPN’s report, Johnson has signed a deal with the Illawarra Hawks of the Australian NBL.

After the news went public, Johnson told 247Sports that the more improvised and free-flowing pro game better suits his style:

“The college environment is a bit more controlled and about X’s and O’s and not as much about playing off of feel and freedom… I feel like I thrive in more of an up and down system, getting up more shots and playing off feel but you are also still playing off of actions and stuff like that. I also want to get started on my professional career and taking it more serious so that I can really lock in on the game and try to be the best player I can be.”

According to the consensus rankings, Johnson (6-foot-5, 160 pounds) is No. 5 among combo guards, third overall in the state of California and No. 18 nationally in the recruiting class of 2023.

Johnson will aim to take a similar path to the NBA as LaMelo Ball, who played one season in the Australian league before going No. 3 overall to the Charlotte Hornets in 2020.

For now, ESPN’s mock draft has Johnson coming off the board at No. 14.

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