Brandon Johnson will remember June 10 as the day the University of San Diego’s Sports Center reopened with a new gym floor after being closed for two months. He was the first guy shooting baskets and testing it out.
The other reason — and this one is more important to USD’s 2009-10 basketball season hopes — is it’s the day Johnson officially received approval for a fifth-year medical shirt from the West Coast Conference Executive Committee.
“It’s a blessing,” Johnson said. “They said I would probably get it, but I didn’t know when it would happen. I’m ready to get going.”
The 6-foot combo guard’s season ended last year in the eighth game at San Diego State when he suffered a ruptured Achilles’ tendon. It was a loss the Toreros never recovered from.
Johnson has averaged 13.2 points a game for his career. He ranks fifth all-time on the Toreros’ career scoring list and needs 340 points to pass former teammate Gyno Pomare, who set the record last season with 1,725. He also only needs 40 assists to become the school’s career assist leader.
“I’m running again and I’ve been lifting weights,” Johnson said. “It will probably be a couple of weeks before I play any five-on-five, but I can do individual drills and play some two-on-two. My Achilles’ feels fine. It doesn’t hurt at all, but my ankle and calf are still a little weak.”
In 2007-08, Johnson led the Toreros to an NCAA tournament first-round upset of Connecticut after winning the WCC tournament title. Johnson was named the tournament MVP.
Johnson said his goal is to regain the momentum had gain before his injury. In addition to losing Johnson early in the year, the Toreros were plagued by suspensions that led to the transfer of starting point guard Trumaine Johnson when he left the team in the final month of the season.
USD also lost returning starting forward Rob Jones, but he said his transfer was to return home to be closer to his ailing father.
“I want to bring our program back to where we were before,” Johnson said. “I want us to be competing for the conference title. I want to get back to a position of leadership and help the new guys in this program grow.”
— TOM SHANAHAN