May 8, 2011
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Orlando Johnson, who has led UC Santa Barbara to consecutive Big West Conference Tournament championships and NCAA Tournament berths for the first time in school history, has removed his name from consideration for the 2011 NBA Draft, he announced Sunday.
"I want to finish what I started," said Johnson. "I want to get my degree. When I went to LMU (Loyola Marymount, where he played as a freshman) my goal was to graduate and I don't want to leave college without achieving that."
Johnson, a two-time Big West Tournament MVP, two-time First Team All-Big West choice, and two-time league scoring champion, will return as one of the top players in the nation. As a junior, he ranked among the top-15 in scoring nationally at 21.0 points per game.
"I want to return and take my game to a new level," he said. "I am excited because we have so much potential. We've gone to two NCAA Tournaments and I know that we have a chance to be so successful."
UCSB head coach Bob Williams is pleased to see his top player return for his senior campaign.
"Obviously I am glad that Orlando decided to return," he said. "It was his decision and we would have supported him either way. He is the leader of this team and the opportunity to have him next year is huge for us. It is very exciting."
Johnson made himself available to the NBA in April. On Saturday, he attended a workout in New Jersey for several prospects and while he fared very well, he still opted to return.
"The opportunity to display my abilities was a good one," he said. "I know what I have to do now and I will work on those things."
With Johnson's return, the Gauchos will have much of their arsenal from 2011 back for the 2011-12 season. In addition to the league's leading scorer, they will also welcome back James Nunnally, who averaged 16.7 points per game and was an Honorable Mention All-Big West selection. Nunnally and Jaimé Serna were both selected to the All-Big West Tournament Team after UCSB swept three games and stormed to the title.