Duluth's Cory Johnson happy at Iowa State
Ex-Duluth East standout chose Iowa State over U
BY MARCUS R. FULLER
Article Launched: 11/20/2007 12:01:00 AM CST
Cory Johnson had a lot on his mind besides trying to lead Duluth East to a Class AAA state tournament championship during his 2006 senior season.
Johnson, who committed to play for Iowa State early, found out before the state tournament that Wayne Morgan had been fired as Iowa State's coach. Former Northern Iowa coach Greg McDermott would be named his replacement.
All of a sudden, Johnson had to rethink if he wanted to play for the Cyclones or the Minnesota Gophers.
"I just wanted to finish off the season before I really thought about it," said Johnson, who will play for Iowa State (2-1) against the Gophers (1-0) at 7 tonight in Ames. "The (Gophers) were definitely in there right down to the wire."
Johnson, a 6-foot-7, 230-pound forward and one of the top scorers in Minnesota high school history, met with McDermott after his high school season ended. He gave the new coach a chance to resell him on the program.
"I felt comfortable with him," said Johnson, who averaged 4.2 points, 2.0 rebounds and 11.4 minutes while earning Iowa State's Mr. Hustle Award as a freshman last season. "I did a lot of talking with my parents. It was a tough decision, but I thought the opportunity (to play) would be more (at Iowa State)."
After contributing off the bench last season, Johnson hoped his role would expand as a sophomore. He had 10 points and two blocks in 12 minutes in a season-opening victory over Winston-Salem State on Nov. 9. But he only has scored two
points and played a combined 16 minutes in the past two games. He played five minutes and went scoreless in a 65-56 loss to Bradley on Nov. 14. Meanwhile, the Gophers program has revived with new coach Tubby Smith. There would have been plenty of opportunity for Johnson on this season's Minnesota team, which includes only 11 scholarship players.
But Johnson doesn't regret his decision to leave his home state. Last season, he had four points and three rebounds in Iowa State's 68-63 win over Minnesota at Williams Arena.
"I heard it a little bit from the opposing fans (at the Barn)," Johnson said. "A lot of buddies always tell me stuff about (Smith). It will be fun to play against Minnesota here in Ames." Briefly: Gophers senior guard Lawrence McKenzie practiced Monday after resting a groin injury he suffered during the exhibition season. Smith said he expects McKenzie to play tonight. McKenzie scored just two points and was 0 for 5 shooting in 24 minutes during the 84-52 season-opening victory over Army on Nov. 10.
Marcus R. Fuller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last edited by isucyfan; 11-20-2007 at 12:35 PM.
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