The 2019 NBA Draft will be remembered mostly for the raw emotion of so many of the top players, as well as the dizzying whirlwind of picks swapping hands. As everyone tried to make sense of the frenzied activity, draft experts settled on North Carolina’s Cameron Johnson being selected 11th overall as perhaps the biggest surprise of the night.
Many didn’t expect Johnson’s name to be called so early. Bleacher Report had him going 17th while CBS Sports had him at 21. NBAdraft.net projected Johnson would be drafted 37th, in the second round. The Minnesota Timberwolves instead made Johnson a lottery pick at No. 11, although a previous trade between the Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns meant he was headed to Arizona.
Minnesota received the sixth pick, which was Jarrett Culver from Texas Tech, while Phoenix received forward Dario Saric and Johnson.
From his home in Moon Township, Pa., Johnson watched as his NBA dream became a reality. He posted on Instagram following the selection with a caption that said, “isn’t God good… Thank you @suns let’s get to work!”
As a believer, Johnson has used his platform as a D-I basketball player to share about his faith before. Johnson quoted the entirety of Psalm 23 in a series of Instagram posts in early 2018 during his first of two seasons with the Tar Heels.
Johnson, 23, took a somewhat roundabout path to Chapel Hill, and now to the NBA. He first enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh, but redshirted his freshman season due to a right shoulder injury. He played two more seasons at Pitt and flashed his shooting prowess that made him such a hot commodity for NBA teams. However, with two seasons of eligibility still remaining, Johnson graduated from Pitt in three years and sought to transfer to North Carolina. He was finally granted a release from Pittsburgh and the opportunity to play immediately for the Tar Heels as a graduate student in the school’s program for sports administration.
Johnson steadily showed improvement throughout his two seasons in Chapel Hill. In 2019, he led the team by averaging 16.9 points per game to along with 5.8 rebounds, all while shooting 45.7 percent from 3-point range.
Johnson and the other UNC seniors took turns addressing the Smith Center crowd after a North Carolina win over Duke in Johnson’s final home game. Johnson thanked his family, teammates, coaches and fans. And he also thanked his Lord and Savior.
“I just want to thank God,” Johnson said, “because the sooner you trust in His plan for you, the sooner you find peace.”
Now, at long last and with unforeseen twists and turns, God has brought Johnson to Phoenix to join a young yet talented Suns team. Johnson doesn’t know if NBA championships and All-Star Game appearances are in his future, but he’s learned to find peace in God’s plan for him whatever it may be.
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