California high school guard A.J. Johnson, a projected 2024 NBA draft lottery pick, told ESPN on Thursday that he has decommitted from the Texas Longhorns and signed a deal with the Illawarra Hawks of the National Basketball League in Australia.
Johnson, a 6-foot-6 senior at the Southern California Academy, is the highest-profile American prospect to leap to the NBL’s Next Stars program since Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball spent the 2019-20 season in Australia on his way to becoming the No. 3 pick in the NBA draft.
Johnson, who will be represented by agent Bill Duffy of WME Basketball, is the projected No. 13 prospect in ESPN’s 2024 NBA mock draft. Since Ball’s departure, the NBL’s Next Stars program has been a developmental program largely centered on Australian and European talent — including the Oklahoma City Thunder‘s Josh Giddey and Ousmane Dieng.
Johnson, an explosive open-court player considered to have elite playmaking ability, had originally committed to join Texas and coach Rodney Terry, but he changed course to pursue the professional pathway in Australia. Under coach Jacob Jackomas, the Hawks have built a reputation for superior player development.