Johnson to Japan; men’s basketball announces non-conference schedule

Derek Wetmore

Damian Johnson graduated the Gophers men’s basketball program as one of the all-time great defenders. He is second on the all-time steals list (195), third in blocks (181), and third in games played (127). Johnson worked out with the Wolves in June with former teammate Lawrence Westbrook, and was reportedly in the competition for the Wolves’ summer league team. Johnson opted to try out for the Miami Heat summer league team instead, perhaps because the Heat were in desperate need of league-minimum contracts to fill out a roster that recently added Lebron James and Chris Bosh to team up with incumbent Dwyane Wade. 

Johnson did not make the Miami Heat’s final roster, and has now signed a contract to play overseas in Japan for the Oita Heat Devils of Japan’s BJ-League.

Johnson said he hopes to get a chance to compete for a roster spot with an NBA team again next season.

Westbrook is still in the mix for the Wolves’ roster spot – presumably the final roster spot. Minnesota is still under the NBA’s minimum salary cap, and President of Basketball Operations David Kahn has indicated that he would like to sign a veteran player to complete the roster and get to the league-minimum cap. Final roster decisions will need to be made before the team travels to London to face the defending champion L.A. Lakers on Oct. 2.

UPDATE (3:15 PM): *The Wolves just agreed to terms with former Creighton center Anthony Tolliver. Terms of the deal are 2 years and $4.8 million according to the Star Tribune’s Darren Wolfson. Westbrook is still believed to be in the mix for a roster spot with the Wolves’ Development League team. *

Non-conference

The men’s basketball team announced the non-conference schedule yesterday for the 2010-11 season. It includes 12 games, eight of which will be played at Williams Arena. The first game will be at The Barn when the Gophers square off with Wofford College on Nov. 12. The team will also take part in the Puerto Rico tip-off Nov. 18-21 that includes college basketball powerhouses North Carolina and West Virginia. 

Now that we’ve reached August, a reminded that Trevor Mbakwe’s trial’s most recent postponement has it scheduled for Aug. 23.