Former San Diego guard Brandon Johnson is under federal indictment over a bribery case that could land him in prison, but he is also thinking about a future professional career overseas.
The San Diego Union-Tribune is reporting that a judge has more than doubled Johnson's bond amount to $65,000 in exchange for lifting Johnson's international travel restriction so that he might go to China to play in a basketball tournament.
He was not in court Thursday, but attorney Oliver Cleary said Johnson "wants to showcase his abilities" at the Lu’an Invitational in Changzhi in hopes of landing a pro contract with an overseas team.
Assistant U.S. attorney Harold Chun opposed the motion, first raised before Brooks on Tuesday, on grounds that the United States has no extradition treaty with China and would have "no recourse" if Johnson didn't return.
"He's a 24-year-old man, he doesn't speak Chinese," Cleary said of Johnson. "He's not going there to stay and play in China for the rest of his life. … He just wants to participate in this tournament with teams (and scouts) from around the world. It just happens to be in China."
If Johnson had hoped to continue playing professionally, going overseas is probably a good idea given that American teams might be hesitant to employ someone who's name has been linked to accusations of sports betting and game-fixing.
It's also quite striking that someone accused of essentially spitting in the face of fair play and the spirit of competition would now perhaps need the game more than ever.
According to the Union-Tribune, Johnson would be playing for a Houston-based team called To God Be The Glory Sports, and it's founder, Cyril White had this to say about the accused player:
"Brandon is an exceptional basketball player, and if he has the opportunity to showcase himself in China he could get himself a contract for $15,000 per month and up. That’s what they pay over there. … If he can just show what he can do, I think he can go get some money."
In the meantime, Johnson continues to work out in the TGBTG gym in Houston, as he has for the past month.
"I love his competitive spirit," White said, "and he is an incredible athlete. He's an animal. I enjoy having him around. I can tell (the court case) is something he has to deal with, and all the stress that comes with it, but he doesn’t really show many outward signs. He just wants to play basketball."