Johnson’s status is still up in the air |

Johnson’s status is still up in the air

One thing is certain, he won’t accompany the team this morning to Akron for Friday night’s road game against the Zips, if only because Nevada coach Mark Fox said he doesn’t have Johnson’s grades as of yet.

Johnson, Nevada’s 6-foot-9 210-pound senior center, averaged 5 points and 4.2 rebounds a game during the 2005-06 season. He has been academically ineligible since last spring, and providing he did well enough in the classroom this fall, he could be back on the team as early as next week depending on what Fox decides to do, and the coach said he’s not going to make a hasty decision.

Johnson could use this season as a redshirt year and return to the team next fall, and Fox has mentioned that is a possibility.

Fox said after Saturday’s win over Pacific that he and Johnson had talked, and that Johnson would abide by whatever decision Fox made.

“What we decide to do will be what’s best for Demarshay, the team and the program,” Fox said. “It’s a big-picture decision.”

Fox wants Johnson to graduate, and the senior has a good chance to do that if he redshirts this year and plays next year. Fox may be concerned that if Johnson plays the rest of the season, he may not come back and finish up his degree next fall.

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Fox said that adding Johnson at mid-season wouldn’t damage the team’s chemistry.

“We have terrific chemistry,” Fox said. “He’s been practicing with us everyday. I don’t worry about the chemistry at all.”

There’s no doubt that the Pack could use Johnson’s rebounding ability and defense if nothing else. His length and quickness enable him to guard athletic power forwards or centers.

The addition of Johnson would give Nevada more experience on the front line, as junior David Ellis and freshman JaVale McGee haven’t been as consistent as Fox would like, though both have had their share of solid minutes during games.

• Nevada players finished their finals on Tuesday, so they are free to concentrate on basketball only for the next month.

However, despite the four-week break from school, there still really isn’t much time for players to go home because Nevada plays Friday in Ohio, will get Christmas Eve off and then resume practice Christmas Day in preparation for its game against Maine on Dec. 28 at Lawlor Events Center.

Neither Nick Fazekas or Marcelus Kemp are going home, and it’s likely the other out-of-state players won’t be leaving campus, either.

Fox said that he is having the players who will be staying in Reno over the holidays over to his house for a nice meal and to relax.

That has become a yearly tradition for Fox and his wife Cindy, the Pack’s associate athletic director.