The grind of a 30-plus game college season is one thing. Adapting to the workout schedule in hopes of being drafted into the NBA is another for Elijah Johnson.
“We all come from college for the most part. You got to be in condition. … If you’re not it makes you look worse,” said Johnson, a 6-2 point guard from Kansas who averaged 9.9 points and 4.6 rebounds last season and took part in individual workouts with the Wizards on Tuesday. “You turn over (the ball) from being tired. You don’t complement your game by being fatigued on the court. That’s what I've been hearing everywhere I go.”
While Johnson isn't among the top-rated players at his position heading into the June 27 draft, he has physical tools that make him a possible second-round pick or free agent pick up.
He’s still raw and not a pure point guard, averaging three turnovers per game as a senior. Johnson isn't effective in the half court and doesn't have the jump shot. But he’s fast, and strong, and could grow into a dependable reserve on the right team.
The Wizards are thin at backup point guard, especially if they fail to re-sign A.J. Price and Garrett Temple when they become free agents July 1.
Johnson joined Louisville’s Peyton Siva in a six-player workout. Lottery prospects often decline some workout invitations. They have it a lot easier.
Players such as Johnson, however, make their rounds.
“It’s actually kind of tough because we travel so much. We take days off constantly going from city to city,” he said. “I just came here from Portland. (Monday), I had a day off but I came in the gym when I landed just so I could get my body moving. I didn't want to come in here and that be the first thing I did in two days.”
Still, Johnson doesn't feel pressure.
“I feel like you've been working on this your whole life. It shows in your character. If you've not been working hard or if you've been not the most obedient person or whatever it shows in the workout. You can’t hide it,” he said. “But when you've been working on it and it’s been a part of your character your whole life it’s not something you have to dig deep down and pull out. It’s just natural.”