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Rookie Xavier Johnson Quickly Finding His Place with the Legends

By Asher Feltman | December 7, 2017

Trailing by 13 entering the fourth quarter, the G League’s leading scorerJustin Dentmon (27 points, five assists, three rebounds) spearheaded a lightning quick run, cutting the lead to three points. Unfortunately, the Canton Charge (4-7), affiliate of the Cleveland Cavaliers, held on to win by that margin, besting the Texas Legends (6-6) 110 to 107 on Wednesday night.

A pit stop back home for the Legends, sandwiched by three previous road games and four more upcoming to total a stretch of seven of eight away from Dr Pepper Arena, didn’t go their way.

Because of their participation in last month’s FIBA World Cup Qualifiers with Team USA, the Legends 12th game of the year marked the home debut in 2017-2018 forJameel Warney and Donald Sloan. Warney led the team with 28 points and also grabbed 12 rebounds (five offensive) to go with a blocked shot. Sloan picked up 11 points, six assists and five rebounds.

A door also opened for rookieXavier Johnson, and to say the very least, he answered the call.

“Coming in as a rookie, I always got to perform every night,” says the former Colorado Buffaloes standout. “It’s imperative that I show up and do my job which is defensive rebounding right now. We have a lot of good scorers and two-way players on our team who score buckets so my job is to come in and be an energy guy. Come in, hustle and do my thing.”

Johnson tallied six points and 12 rebounds in this one, an even six on the offensive and defensive glass while also dishing out four assists in just 22 minutes. The team was plus-14 in that time, which led the club as did his 12 rebounds, tied with Warney and Johnathan Motley, who himself stayed hot with 24 points in a team-high 42 minutes.

Like Ashley, Johnson identifies as “positionless,” meaning he can play anywhere on the floor that Coach MacKinnon can think of. That versatility makes a very good player a very great asset. “That’s the way the NBA is now. Play one through five and do it all.”

The opportunity that has befallen Johnson is one that every player gets at some point in their career. Thankfully, he’s seized it. On top of tonight’s production, he has accumulated 22 points and 18 rebounds during just 52 minutes in the last three Texas games. Also worth noting is his efficiency, shooting a sparkling 69 percent.

“We have a great coaching system here. We have Eric Snow and other previous NBA players. I’m working out with them extra so they give me confidence in my ability by taking extra shots in the gym and by doing the little things and playing hard. The rest will take care of itself.”

As noted, the Legends will head back on the road for a four game road trip that takes them to the East coast for matchups against each Atlantic Division opponent. First up are the division-leading Westchester Knicks (9-5) on Friday night at 6 PM CT.

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