We had the opportunity to catch up with post-grad transfer PG Alex Johnson who will have one year of eligibility left when he gets to Raleigh. The 5’10 point guard may be small in stature, but he’ll be filling in for new head coach Mark Gottfried in a big way after losing senior PG Javi Gonzalez to graduation and sophomore PG Ryan Harrow to transfer.
PI: Can you talk a little about your recruitment coming out of high school and how you ended up playing at Cal State Bakersfield?
“Yeah, well in high school I was overlooked probably because of my height. I played for the AAU team Grassroots Canada and my coach there who I’m still really close with- Coach Ro Russell- told me that Cal State Bakersfield was looking for a point guard so I visited out there and really liked it. They were kind of in a unique situation too because they were transitioning to division 1.”
PI: What was your time at Cal State Bakersfield like? Do you feel like playing there helped you mature as a player?
“Most definitely. It was a real eye opener for me though because of the speed of the game. I improved a lot while I was there thanks to the coaches. They really pushed me and sometime we were at odds but I knew they just wanted to push me to my limit to be the best I could be. That kind of helped me turn from a boy to man. Also, at the beginning of my junior season I hurt my knee and had to miss my junior year. That was really unfortunate but might have been a blessing. I was actually able to sit out that year and really learn the game. I was always a very fast point guard that just liked to go-go-go and after watching that season I learned a lot about knowing when to push the pace and when to pull back a bit.”
PI: How did you find out about the opportunity at NC State?
“Again, Ro Russell was the guy who came up and talked to me after my Junior season about transferring. I knew I had one more year but he told me that since I was graduating that I could go play anywhere and not have to sit out a year. I had been watching a lot of March Madness and seeing my friends like Tristan Thomson play in such competitive leagues and felt like that’s where I wanted to be. Coach Ro Russell talked to NC State and they were looking for a point guard for this year and he said he had one . When he told me about it I was really interested.”
PI: Which coach was the lead on your recruitment to NC State?
Coach Lutz. He’s who I have been talking to and he just seemed like a real genuine guy. I did my homework and saw that he was really successful at Charlotte. So I came down to take a visit and I liked it a lot. The opportunity was a real blessing. I’m a religious guy and it just feels like everything fell perfectly into place for me here. ”
PI: What type of role do the coaches see you having at NC State?
“Well I’m a true PG and I know they really don’t have a true PG this season, but Coach Lutz and Coach Gottfried told me that my destiny is in my own hands. They were real with me and straight up and told me that they’re not guaranteeing me a starting job or anything. They told me that there are 3 guards and that it’s just about who works hardest and gets the job done. I know from my time at Bakersfield that you have to work for you spot and to earn your minutes so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
PI: What’s your plans now? Are you headed to Raleigh this summer?
“Yeah. Well, right now I’m in Cali still. I’m going to stay here because I’m about to graduate in about a week. Then I’m going to just take some time off before I head to Raleigh at the end of June for 2nd semester summer school. Then I can get in there, meet the team and get to work.”