University of Tennessee men’s basketball star Keon Johnson is following teammate Jaden Springer out the door.
The 6-foot-5 freshman guard declared for the NBA Draft on Wednesday, signing with an agent and ensuring he won’t return to Knoxville next year.
Johnson, who is ESPN’s No. 6 overall prospect and Sports Illustrated’s No. 10 overall prospect for the 2021 draft, is a likely lottery pick. He averaged 11.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game last year for the Vols, who went 18-9 and were a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
"The NBA has always been my goal, but I never expected it to come this soon," Johnson told ESPN. "I really don't care what number I get drafted at. I just want to go somewhere I fit in that organization. Where I can keep developing and find my niche."
Johnson was UT’s second-leading scorer and ranked third on the team in assists and fourth in field goal shooting. Playing 25.5 minutes per game, Johnson shot 44.9 percent from the field and 27.1 percent from 3.
He had 15 double-digit scoring games — including three 20-point performances and a career-high 27 points in an 82-71 win over Kentucky on Feb. 6 — and was named to the SEC All-Freshman team.
The 18-year-old guard led UT in made field goals (111) and field goal attempts (247) while starting 17 of 27 games. In UT’s two SEC Tournament games, Johnson averaged 16.5 points, nine rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.
The Bell Buckle native was the No. 1 overall recruit in the state of Tennessee a season ago out of The Webb School. A two-time TSSAA Division II-A Mr. Basketball winner, Johnson led The Webb School to a 29-7 record and the TSSAA Division II-A state semifinals as a junior in 2019. He averaged 24.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 3.0 steals and 2.4 blocks per game that season.
The 2021 NBA Draft will be held on July 29 and the NBA draft combine will take place June 21-27.
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_