Ivan Johnson Surprises as One of Two Oregon Ducks in the NBA

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Ivan Johnson Surprises as One of Two Oregon Ducks in the NBA
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

With Aaron Brooks playing for the Chinese Basketball Association’s Guangdong Southern Tigers until March, only two former Oregon Ducks are playing in the Association.

Minnesota Timberwolves veteran point guard Luke Ridnour is putting up solid numbers while splitting time with rookie point guard Ricky Rubio.

In his eighth year, Ridnour is averaging 12.5 points and 3.4 assists per game while shooting better than 50 percent. Those numbers are in line with what he did during his three successful years at the University of Oregon, when he led the Ducks to an appearance in the Elite Eight.

The other Duck making a splash in the NBA is more of a surprise. In fact, the college listed on his NBA.com profile is Cal State San Bernardino. That’s because Ernie Kent booted him from the UO program after his one season as a Duck.

During that season—2005-06—his numbers weren’t outstanding. He averaged 7.5 points and 3.2 rebounds while playing 16.1 minutes per game. Those numbers are still somewhat underwhelming today while playing power forward for the Atlanta Hawks: 4.6 points and 3.4 rebounds in 14 minutes per game.

That he’s the only player off that team playing in the NBA is phenomenal. The team was loaded with talent—guys like Brooks (who will be Steve Nash’s understudy when he returns to the Phoenix Suns), Maarty Leunen, Malik Hairston and Bryce Taylor.

Johnson showed flashes of brilliance while roaming the paint at Mac Court. He had tremendous athleticism in his 6’8”, 255-pound frame, posterizing players all year and doing it with a nasty demeanor.

Unfortunately for Johnson, his nastiness wasn't only on the court. His problems in Eugene were with his attitude. According to Mike Rice in last night’s Trail Blazers-Hawks telecast, he still has issues with his temperament. Atlanta management was willing to overlook his hot-headed temper and signed him on Dec. 9, 2011.

After going undrafted out of Cal State San Bernardino, he found himself playing in the NBA D League in 2007-08. After some time playing overseas, he wound up back in the D League for the 2010-11 season, when he earned first team All D-League honors. His numbers were much improved from those he put up as a Duck: 22.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.8 steals per game.

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