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Tigers coach indicates no desire for Johnson to return

By Andy Katz

Louisiana State reserve forward Shawnson Johnson quit the team Tuesday night and coach John Brady isn't welcoming him back if he changes his mind.

Johnson, who averaged 17.7 minutes and 5.3 points and a team-high 7.0 rebounds a game in the first three contests, didn't play in the first half of the victory Tuesday over Delaware State. When the team got to the locker room at halftime, Johnson got dressed in his street clothes, didn't talk to Brady and left the locker room.

"I told him 'If you walk out on the team, that's it,'' Brady said. "Nobody said a word. He just left. I told him he would be making a big mistake. We ended up playing the best 20 minutes of our season in the second half. He's got his own ideas and they're not the teams'. I'm going to coach the guys who want to be and work at LSU. If he's not willing to do that then I'll move on.''

Johnson was ineligible last season, but was expected to be an impact forward for the Tigers (3-1) this season. But his scoring and knowledge of the system has lacked and pushed him further down the bench.

It was a short LSU career for Johnson, a 6-foot-9 post player from Shreveport who signed in 2001 but was ineligible to play last season because he was late turning in his course work at Baytown Lee Junior College.

Johnson was expected to provide much-needed help with an inside presence on both ends of the court. He averaged 21 points and seven rebounds and set a school record for blocked shots at Lee. This season, he had a team-high 10 points and 13 rebounds in LSU's opener against Nicholls State. He played 19 minutes against South Alabama and 13 against Texas A&M.

Johnson drew Brady's ire in LSU's first exhibition game. He was suspended from the game when he went through warmups with his hair styled in cornrows. That violated a team policy set by the players. Johnson shaved his head for the next game.

Tuesday, Johnson sat out the first half of LSU's 65-44 victory over Delaware State and didn't return to the bench for the second. Afterward, Brady said Johnson left by choice.

"I'm going to coach the guys who want to play for LSU,'' Brady said. "I want guys who grow up, (will) be young men and give until it hurts,'' Brady said Tuesday. "If anyone thinks their feelings are more important than what's best for the team, it matters not to me. I won't stand for it.''

Players declined to comment.

"That's between Coach Brady and Shawnson,'' senior guard Collis Temple said.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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