Johnson leads five Purdue honorees
Just a few years removed from playing junior varsity high school basketball, JaJuan Johnson is a first-team All-Big Ten player.
The honor came as no surprise, but was made official Monday, as the 6-foot-10 Boilermaker sophomore was recognized as a first-team all-league pick by both the coaches and the media.
He was one of the five Boilermakers honored Monday.
E'Twaun Moore was a second-team All-Big Ten selection after leading Purdue in scoring; Preseason Player-of-the-Year Robbie Hummel's season was marred by injury, but he earned a spot on the third team nonetheless. Chris Kramer was an honorable-mention pick by the media.
Kramer and Johnson were named to the Big Ten's All-Defensive team; point guard Lewis Jackson was named to the All-Freshman team.
But for Hummel, Moore and Kramer, postseason honors could have been predicted; each was recognized in some form or another a year ago. Johnson's emergence into one of the Big Ten's best was abrupt.
After a modest freshman season, Johnson became stronger and more importantly, more confident.
It helped him break out in 2008-09, a season in which he averaged 13.2 points and 5.9 rebounds. He shot 56 percent from the field and led the conference in shot-blocking with 69 rejections.
In Big Ten play only, Johnson averaged 13.8 points and 6.7 rebounds.
Coach Matt Painter said Johnson "hasn't even scratched the surface" of what he's capable of becoming as a basketball player, citing the sophomore's attitude for his meteoric rise.
"The reason why he has made the improvements - from being a ninth-grade B-team player to his sophomore year in college being one of the best, if not the best, post guys in our league - is because he has a good attitude, he works hard and he's coachable," Painter said. "A lot of times, you get guys who when they run into walls or hit hurdles, they misdirect that anger, frustration or disappointment and somehow they stop their improvement, instead of looking in the mirror and acknowledging it or understanding it and continuing to work hard.
"When things don't work for (Johnson), he stays positive and continues to work hard. It's a great story and I don't see why he can't make the same improvements the following two years that he's made this year and continue to be one of the best players in this league."
In other conference awards news, Michigan State's Kalin Lucas was named Player-of-the-Year, while teammate Travis Walton succeeded Kramer as Defensive Player-of-the-Year.
Michigan State's Tom Izzo was named Coach-of-the-Year by the conference's coaches, Penn State's Ed DeChellis by the media.
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