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May 22, 2011NC State has been looking high and low for a point guard for next year to add depth for the backcourt. The search ended Sunday.
NC State has picked up point guard Alex Johnson, who is a graduate student from Cal-State Bakersfield and eligible right away for the Wolfpack. The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Johnson averaged 13.3 points and 2.4 assists at CSBU last year, and he made 79 3-pointers. He scored a season-high 26 points in back-to-back games against UC-Riverside on Dec. 22 and Colorado on Jan. 2. He went 10 of 21 from the field and made six 3-pointers against the Buffaloes.
The Toronto native visited NC State on May 18 and has his former traveling team coach Ro Russell living in the area. Johnson also considered Florida State.
"Johnson is a very quick and skilled player, who can really handle the basketball and create off the dribble," Russell said. "He has really good shooting ability. I coached him in AAU in Canada, and since he's gotten to Cal-State Bakersfield, he has gotten bigger and more mature."
CSBU went through a coaching change this offseason, and Johnson decided this past week that he was ready to make the move to another college. He graduated Saturday, allowing him to take advantage of an NCAA rule to be eligible right away at another college that offers a graduate school program that his previous school didn't have.
"His knowledge of the game and decision-making has improved, and he's a very good 3-point shooter," Russell said. "He had 20 in the first half against Colorado this season. He just put on the line against them. They had nothing to lose."
Russell said opponents started to game plan its defenses around stopping Johnson toward the end of his junior season.
"He had very little help to maintain that effectiveness," Russell said.
The Wolfpack's need for a point guard intensified after freshman Ryan Harrow transferred following the coaching transition. Fellow freshman Lorenzo Brown was the only player remaining on the roster with point guard experience.
"Shortly after Harrow transferred and they had a big need for some more guard help, and they also lost Javi Gonzalez to graduation, they needed another guard," Russell said. "Johnson was in a unique situation where he was graduating. He could transfer to another school for his master's and be eligible right away.
"I met the new coaches there at NC State. They asked if I knew of any point guards that were eligible to play next year, and I told them about Alex."
NC State did its due diligence on Johnson's career the last four years at Cal-State Bakersfield, and the match proved to be a great fit. Johnson will help serve a bridge until class of 2012 point guard Tyler Lewis of Lewisville (N.C.) Forsyth Country Day arrives.
Russell also thinks Johnson will help in the leadership department for the Pack.
"He'll help the morale of the team and be a good leader," Russell said.