7. PG Avery Johnson, Southern University
Johnson, a New Orleans native who attended high school sports powerhouse St. Augustine’s, led the NCAA in assists with 13 per game while a senior at Southern. He went undrafted and bounced around the league during his first few years before eventually finding a home with the San Antonio Spurs.
Grit, toughness and floor leaderships were earmarks of his game. A favorite moment of mine was when then NBA All-Star Damon Stoudemire downplayed Johnson’s ability prior to a playoff matchup between the Spurs and the Portland Trailblazers. AJ would let his play do the talking and would not only lock Stoudemire up, but would score a critical basket down the stretch that sent Portland packing from the 1999 NBA playoffs. He held Damon to three points on 1-12 shooting in an embarrassing Game 3 blowout win.
Avery’s best statistical season was in the 1995-96 season when he averaged 13 points and nine assists per game. He was an integral part of a Spurs team that won an NBA Championship over the New York Knicks in 2000.
He was NBA Coach of the Year with the Dallas Mavericks in 2006 and is currently the head coach of the University of Alabama Men’s Basketball team.
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