UC Santa Barbara's tale of two offseasons

Following UC Santa Barbara's second straight opening-round loss in the NCAA tournament, Orlando Johnson went back to work.

The Gauchos' star guard worked out for NBA teams before deciding to withdraw his name from the draft, attended skills academies hosted by LeBron James and Kevin Durant, and made the USA Basketball's World University Games team to earn himself a trip to China, where he was the flag bearer for the American contingent.

Backcourt mate and fellow senior James Nunnally, meanwhile, worked on his game closer to home and got stronger this offseason as well, according to coach Bob Williams.

"Orlando’s offseason was very public," Williams said. "James’ was quietly phenomenal."

That's good news for a Gauchos team that very much wants to taste NCAA tournament success, but also has a huge roadblock ahead of it again with Long Beach State picked in the preseason to repeat as the regular-season champion.

UC Santa Barbara went on a preseason tour of Canada, so really, Johnson has not had a chance to recharge his batteries. Williams said he wants to get him some rest soon.

"We have to ride this horse in January, February and March," Williams explained. "He had the offseason of a lifetime in his eyes. It was a great opportunity, and it raised his visibility nationally."

Nunnally, who averaged 16.3 points last season, doesn't necessarily play second fiddle to Johnson considering he led the team in scoring in the early going and also can put up points in bunches. Williams said that based on his offseason, he's looking for Nunnally to have another breakout year.

The Gauchos also have some newcomers expected to contribute as well, including freshman John Green and New Mexico transfer Nate Garth, who is coming off hip surgery last year.

"I like where we are," Williams said.