Johnson Named to John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 List

Orlando Johnson (Photo by Matt Brown)
Orlando Johnson (Photo by Matt Brown)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara senior guard Orlando Johnson was named to the 2012 John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 List, the Los Angeles Athletic Club announced Monday.  Johnson is the first Gaucho player to make the list.

"I am humbled and honored to get this type of recognition," Johnson said.  "I've worked hard and this shows that the hard work pays off."

As a junior in 2010-11, Johnson averaged 21.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.2 steals per game.  He was named First Team All-Big West, First Team National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-District 9 Team, the United States Basketball Writers of America (USBWA) All-District Team, Lou Henson Mid-Major All-American and Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American.  Johnson won the Big West Conference scoring crown for the second straight year and set UCSB records for points in a season with 674 and game with 39.  In 2010, he was the Big West Player of the Year.

In addition, for the second straight year, Johnson was named Big West Tournament Most Valuable Player after leading the Gauchos to their second straight tourney title and second straight NCAA Tournament bid. 

"This acknowledges that Orlando is a top 50 player in the country," said UCSB head coach Bob Williams.  "He's earned it, deserves it is in great company.  The history of the award says that you not only have to be a great player, but also a good person and that makes it even more meaningful."

In terms of honors and accolades, Johnson has had an outstanding run in the past several months.  In August, he was a member of Team USA at the World University Games in China.  In fact, he was the flag bearer for the American delegation at the opening ceremonies.  Earlier in the summer, Johnson was chosen to be a counselor at the Kevin Durant Nike Skills Academy in Chicago and, based on his performance there, was accorded the same opportunity at the LeBron James Nike Skills Academy in Akron, Ohio.

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Johnson is joined on the John R. Wooden Preseason Top 50 list by a fellow Big West player, Casper Ware of Long Beach State.

"It's outstanding recognition for our conference to have Casper and myself on there," Johnson said.  "To have mid-major players blended in is great.  It recognizes that there are quality players helping teams to new heights at all levels."

"I'm not only excited that Orlando is on the list, I'm also excited about Casper," Williams said.  "This is huge for the league.  It's great that people are beginning to notice that two of the better players in the country play in the Big West." 

Johnson and Ware are the second and third Big West players in the last 20 years to earn their way onto the list.  UC Irvine's Jerry Green was on the list prior to the 2001-02 season.

UCSB opens practice on Oct. 15 in preparation for its Nov. 5 exhibition game against San Francisco State.  The regular season will open on Nov. 11 when the Gauchos host Chapman University.

Season tickets are on sale for UCSB men's basketball games.  The 15-game home schedule includes non-conference matchups with UNLV and San Diego State.  In addition to a season ticket, fans have the option to purchase a Big West+1 plan which includes a ticket to all eight Big West games plus one to either the UNLV or San Diego State contest. 

For information or to purchase season tickets, call 805-893-UCSB, drop by the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus or click here.