Former Arizona standout Nick Johnson, the 2014 Pac-12 Player of the Year, is en route back to the United States today after his professional team in Turkey cleared him to leave the country yesterday.
Johnson was playing for the professional team Turk Telecom when concerns over the spread of COVID-19 intensified last week and forced the cancellation of his team’s games. His last game there was on March 11, when he led his team to the quarterfinals of the Turkish League.
Under contract with Turk Telecom, the team had to clear him to return to the United States.
After that happened yesterday, Johnson and his American teammates C.J. Harris (formerly of Wake Forest) and Phoenix product Terrence Campbell (Glendale CC/Portland University) boarded a plane today in Istanbul bound for Chicago, according to Johnson’s mother, Michelle Mayland Johnson.
“I will feel much better when he is landed safe in the U.S.,” said Michelle, who was able to watch her son play in Turkey in January.
Asked when she will be reunited with her son, Michelle mentioned, “I’m not sure. All depends on if they put him on quarantine.”
Johnson is in his sixth year of professional basketball after earning Pac-12 Player of the Year honors in 2013-14, when the Wildcats finished 33-5 and advanced to the Elite Eight when it lost to Wisconsin at Anaheim, Calif.
He finished his career ranked 24th on Arizona’s scoring list with 1,333 points.
Drafted in the second round by the Houston Rockets in 2014, Johnson played in that organization in 2014-15. His career over the last five years has taken him to Rio Grande Valley, Austin and Wisconsin in the G-League. He has also played at Germany and France.
Robinho, el exfutbolista del Real Madrid, asistiendo en el concurso de mates del All-Star de la liga turca. Rándom es poco…pic.twitter.com/NybxEZEGn9
— Riq (@riquiardo12) January 20, 2020
He helped the Austin Spurs win the 2018 G-League title and was named the G-League Finals MVP.
Johnson, 27, was averaging 11.4 points, 4.9 assists and 1.1 steals per game with Turk Telecom this season.
“I’m not so worried about him getting sick, I just don’t like him being stuck in Europe,” Michelle stated. “I am more so was worried about his mindset, when there’s nothing to do and you’re not playing basketball.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.