A look at Johnson's odd, brief Wildcat career

2011-12-04T20:05:00Z 2011-12-04T20:14:53Z A look at Johnson's odd, brief Wildcat careerBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star

Sidiki Johnson's decision to leave Arizona may be one of the more unusual transfer situations the Wildcats have had.

Consider:

-- Johnson committed to UA in August 2009, before Sean Miller had coached a game for the Wildcats and before his junior year in high school started. He remained committed to Arizona solidly even as he changed high schools.

"Book's (Richardson) like my brother and Sean's a great, great, great guy," Johnson said in October 2010.

-- Johnson had a chance to be UA's backup center or more. A week after practices began, Johnson scored 18 points in the Red-Blue Game but struggled once exhibition and regular-season games began.

He fouled out in 14 minutes in UA's exhibition loss to Seattle Pacific and was yanked after just one minute in the regular-season opener against Valparaiso after taking two shots, and did not play at all two days later against Duquesne.

Later, after playing a scoreless two minutes against St. John's in his hometown on Nov. 17, Johnson picked up another DNP the next night against Mississippi State -- and did not fly back on the team charter to Tucson that night.

-- Johnson returned to Tucson a week later, and Miller said he would be focused only on academics and forbidden to join the team for games or practices. Miller said shortly before Johnson's return that he was not optimistic Johnson would be reinstated but said he could be.

At that point, it became clear that Johnson would likely leave and was only returning to get his academics in order so he could move on easily.

-- Johnson left over the weekend. The decision was announced today but there is a Desert Swarm post saying Johnson left town Saturday night.

-- The transfer does not appear to be on good terms, at least at this point. Usually the announcement of a transfer is accompanied by a statement from the head coach offering best wishes to the transfer, or something like that. Miller did not have a statement in today's release.

-- UA is willing to make it be on good terms but wants Johnson to finish the fall semester and remain eligible. If he remains eligible, Johnson will cost UA only one Academic Progress Rate point, which would case minimal damage to the four-year average the school needs to remain eligible for the postseason.

In the last APR report, UA men's basketball had a 950 score, 50 points above the 900 minimum needed to stay in the clear. A 950 score means the school achieved 95 percent of its possible APR points over a rolling four-year period. Each program can earn two points for each athlete each semester, one for remaining eligible and one for returning.

-- It is not clear if Johnson finished or made arrangements to finish the fall semester, but he left with four school days to go before fall semester finals begin on Friday.

-- If Johnson leaves while ineligible, UA may not release him from his scholarship. The Wildcats only automatically release those who leave while eligible (you may recall that Jeff Withey was initially not released in the fall of 2008 until his academics were on track).

However, UA deputy AD Rocky LaRose said today that the school "will support a release and transfer."

-- But even if he is released while ineligible, Johnson may have trouble becoming eligible somewhere else. Withey benefited by leaving UA eligible because he went straight to Kansas and was able to play against Cole Aldrich in practices.

At this point, there's no telling if Johnson will be practicing for anybody in January.

-- Johnson wound up being committed to the Wildcats for two years but only spent two weeks of his first regular season as an active player with them.

-- Johnson's departure opens a scholarship for the class of 2012. Among other possibilities, UA is pursuing Italian guard Amedeo Della Valle, and Miller is looking at Cochise College forward Matt Korcheck.

UA has only 12 scholarships available this season and next because of NCAA sanctions. The Wildcats will lose four scholarship seniors after this season but have already signed four players during the fall signing period: Gabe York, Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett and Kaleb Tarczewski.

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