La Salle Explorers

La Salle's B.J. Johnson declares for draft but could return for senior year

La Salle's B.J. Johnson declares for draft but could return for senior year

La Salle's B.J. Johnson has declared for the NBA draft but will not hire an agent, the junior forward announced Thursday.

Johnson (6-7/185) was the leading scorer (17.6) and rebounder (6.3) this past season for an Explorers team that went 15-15 and 9-9 in the Atlantic 10. It was his first year at La Salle after spending two seasons at Syracuse.

"My goal is to play the game I love professionally," Johnson said in a statement. "This decision will give me the opportunity to test myself, better myself and receive important feedback in pursuit of this goal."

Johnson's decision to declare for the NBA draft does not jeopardize his remaining college eligibility. 

Villanova's Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins did the same thing after winning the national championship as juniors. NCAA rules allow underclassmen to participate in the NBA scouting combine and one NBA tryout per year and then withdraw from draft consideration after the combine and return to college with full eligibility as long as they haven't hired an agent.

B.J. Johnson comes through in the clutch for La Salle

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USA Today Images

B.J. Johnson comes through in the clutch for La Salle

BOX SCORE

BELFAST, Northern Ireland — B.J. Johnson scored 15 points, including two free throws with 1.7 seconds left, and La Salle held off Holy Cross 58-54 on Saturday in the consolation game of the inaugural Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic.

Pookie Powell, who had 13 points, hit two 3-pointers during an early 8-0 in the second half to give the Explorers (5-4) a 42-26 lead. But in the final 15 minutes, La Salle made just four more baskets and the Crusaders (2-5) charged back.

A 15-2 run, capped by a jumper by Jehyve Floyd with 2:25 to play, tied the game at 50. Johnson responded with his only 3-pointer in seven attempts to quickly put La Salle, which went 4 of 12, back on top. The Crusaders got a pair of free throws with 1:18 to go but Isiah Deas hit another La Salle 3 with 58 seconds remaining. Both teams missed opportunities before Patrick Benzan made a layup for Holy Cross with 3.2 seconds left before Johnson sealed the win.

Floyd led Holy Cross with 15 points and Benzan had 13, 11 in the second half.

La Salle falls apart down stretch in loss to Towson in Ireland

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AP Images

La Salle falls apart down stretch in loss to Towson in Ireland

BOX SCORE

BELFAST, Northern Ireland -- Zane Martin scored 20 points, Mike Morsell added 17 and Towson outscored La Salle 9-2 in the last 2 minutes on Friday for a 67-60 win in the inaugural Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic.

The Tigers (7-1), who have won seven straight, face Manhattan in Saturday's championship game while the Explorers (4-4) meet Holy Cross. This is the first time regular season college games have been played in Europe.

There were 11 ties and 13 lead changes and neither team had a double figure lead.

Pookie Powell, who had 13 points, pulled La Salle into a tie at 58 with a free throw with 3:01 to play. Eddie Keith II answered with a reverse layup for the Tigers and then Brian Starr had a shot-clock beating deep 3-pointer from the right wing to make it 63-58 with 1:13 to play.

B.J. Johnson, who led the Explorers with 24 points and nine rebounds, hit a baseline jumper with 54.3 seconds to play but that was La Salle's only basket in six attempts in the final 2:21. Martin sealed the game with four free throws in the final 22 seconds.

The Sport Changes Life Foundation and the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference partnered with the Hall of Fame to put the tournament together.