Well, the mystery and subterfuge is over. Coveted Texas freshman forward Gary Johnson has finally been cleared to play, beginning Wednesday night (Jan.2) against TCU.
Though he's been monitored closely since october and participated in one exhibition game, everyone connected with the program has claimed ignorance on when Johnson would be cleared for play. In retrospect, those contentions now have an odor about them. Apparently teammate Damion James knew something others have claimed not to know when he blurted out in a mid-November post-game press conference that the team would get a boost when Johnson joined the team "in January."
Johnson won't be available for interviews until Monday, so we won't know how he has felt about the delay while doctors kept close tabs on what has been reported to be some kind of a heart problem. What the delay has been about, I can't explain. Anybody who can survive Rick Barnes' sometimes gruelling practices and strength coach Todd Wright's conditioning programs this long is certainly fit for any kind of physical activity.
Anyway, Johnson is expected to add toughness, rebounding and an overall inside presence thus far missing from the Texas lineup, taking some defensive heat from guards D.J. Augustin and A.J. Abrams. and the 9th-ranked Longhorns haven't been bad without him. Key will be how much he feels the heat to meet all the expectations placed on his shoulders from the get-go. But his presence should help make texas a solid Final Four contender.