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The Journal Gazette

  • Dylan Sinn | The Journal Gazette Former Indiana Hoosier Robert Johnson works out Wednesday for the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis.

Thursday, June 14, 2018 1:00 am

IU's Johnson gets chance to show Pacers he can play

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – After four years at Indiana, where he became one of the top 25 scorers in program history, Robert Johnson is trying to build a pro career.

Johnson took the latest step toward that goal Wednesday when he worked out for the Indiana Pacers at the team's training facility in Indianapolis. The workout was the 6-foot-3 guard's third with an NBA team in preparation for the June 21 draft. 

“I'm just trying to take (this process) one day at a time really,” Johnson said. “I'm just trying to show my complete game, a lot of things I didn't get to show at Indiana, so I think it's been going well so far.”

There is no shortage of tape on Johnson from his time at Indiana, where he made 118 starts, scoring 1,413 points. Still, he realizes that there are aspects of his game that weren't readily apparent and said he's trying to showcase them in these workouts.

“(I wanted to show) that I can play at this level, that I'm talented enough,” he said. “Offensively, I can make shots. I'm strong enough, I'm athletic enough to defend multiple positions.”

Steve Gansey, who coaches the Fort Wayne Mad Ants and will helm the Pacers' Summer League team in Las Vegas this year, was at the workout Wednesday, scouting and instructing. He said that players being able to play multiple positions is one of the main skills he looks for in these workouts.

“The game's changing and there's a lot more switching going on in the NBA,” Gansey said. “There's a lot of switching going on in our league, the G League, too. So it's seeing that these guys can guard multiple positions and seeing if they can communicate and listen.”

Johnson has also worked out for the Oklahoma City Thunder and Milwaukee Bucks in his pre-draft process. With the Pacers, he worked with other prospective NBA players, including former Ohio State forward Jae'Sean Tate and former Louisville guard Quentin Snider.

The former Hoosier said all three of his workouts have been largely similar in terms of what the players did on the court. They do a lot of 3-on-3 drills, run through both offensive and defensive concepts to see how quickly they can pick them up, and then finish with some shooting work.

Johnson has been staying in the Indianapolis area to work out the last month, but after the workout Wednesday he went home to Richmond, Virginia. He plans to work out there on his own as he fields calls from other teams interested in bringing him in before the draft.

Despite his long, productive career with the Hoosiers, Johnson is likely to go undrafted. However, he insists he isn't focused on that.

“Me and my agent, my family, just talk about taking it one step at a time,” Johnson said. “(I'm) giving every day, everything I have and then just assessing where I am after that.”

dsinn@jg.net