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'I'm Excited to Get to Work,' Fresno Native Says After Milwaukee Bucks Draft Him
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By Bill McEwen, News Director
Published 3 weeks ago on
June 27, 2024

The Milwaukee Bucks selected Fresno native AJ Johnson with the 23rd pick in the first round of the NBA draft, Wednesday, June 26, 2024. (x.com/@Bucks)

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The Milwaukee Bucks added to their “Fresno flavor” by selecting Fresno native AJ Johnson with the 23rd pick in the first round of the NBA draft on Wednesday night.

“I am excited to get to work,” the 19-year-old Johnson said in a brief clip posted to X.

Among the players Johnson will work alongside is veteran center Brook Lopez, who played at Fresno’s San Joaquin Memorial High School like Johnson.

Unlike Johnson, Lopez took a more traditional route to the NBA, playing at Stanford before being a first-round selection of the New Jersey Nets in 2008.

Johnson, a 6-foot-4, 167-pound guard, played last season in Australia’s National Basketball League. He was a four-star collegiate recruit last year out of Southern California Academy before deciding to turn pro instead and play in Australia. Johnson averaged 2.9 points in 7.7 minutes over 26 games for the Illawarra Hawks.

Bucks General Manager Jon Horst described Johnson as a prospect with “a defined and unique skill set in speed and athleticism.”

Added Jorst: “He’s very quick. He’s very shifty, very fluid. He knows how to play. I think when you have something that you can count on, it gives you a chance to get on the floor. It gives you a chance to build from somewhere.”

Johnson wasn’t invited by the NBA to the draft green room, but sat in the stands at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn. Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green, a Merced native and also a former San Joaquin Memorial player, sat alongside and embraced Johnson after the Bucks made their pick.

 

“There’s no feeling like it. It’s surreal to me. Trying to soak it in,” Johnson said of being drafted. “But it’s truly a blessing. Like I said before, it’s just really truly a blessing to have players that you’re really close with that are at the level that you want to be at and are doing the things that you want to do on the court. Just to have them pick their brains and (receive) advice that they are giving me, I feel like it’s truly a blessing.”

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Bill McEwen,
News Director
Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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