Hometown: Las Vegas, Nev.
2011-12 Averages: 10.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.4 spg
Career Averages: 5.6 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 2.4 apg, .8 spg
The Backstory: Last season's national runner-up is expected to take its perennial place among the nation's elite, as the Jayhawks started the season ranked No. 7 nationally and were a unanimous preseason pick by Big 12 coaches to win the conference. Senior guard Elijah Johnson will have a lot to say as far as Kansas living up to those expectations. One of KU's three key seniors, along with center Jeff Withey and guard Travis Releford, Johnson will help cushion the blow of losing its top two scorers from last season, Thomas Robinson, also the team's top rebounder, and Tyshawn Taylor, the team's assists leader. Johnson brings plenty to the table. Last season he made 69 three-pointers, including a team season-high five in its Big 12 Tournament quarterfinal rout of Texas A&M. He averaged 1.77 three-point field goals per game (12th in the conference) and hit at a .338 rate (13th in the Big-12), all team highs. He also can distribute the rock; his 3.5 assists per game ranked ninth in the Big 12 and this year he will have plenty of weapons from which to choose, including the 7-footer Withey, Releford, and hot-shot new comer Perry Ellis, a 6-8, 225-pound nightmare. Johnson passes the ball well but is just as good protecting it, as evidenced by his plus-1.93 assist-to-turnover ratio (fifth in the Big 12). Defensively, he is a ball-hawk, leading the Jayhawks and ranking fifth in the Big 12 with 55 steals. Finally, there's his durability. Johnson played all 39 games last season, starting 38; his lone non-start was senior night. He also logged 32.2 minutes a game, second on the club and 10th in the Big 12.
Key Stat: .507/.433: Any worries about Johnson being able to perform in prime time should have been answered during last year's NCAA Tournament, when he was the Jayhawks' leading shooter (.507, 32-of-63) and three-point shooter (.433, on 13-for-30).
Did You Know: Elijah chose a great time for his first career double-double, scoring 13 points and pulling down 10 rebounds in Kansas' 64-62 victory over Ohio State in last year's NCAA Tournament National semifinal. The 10 rebounds were Johnson's career-high and 11 of his 13 points came in the second half, when the Jayhawks outscored the Buckeyes, 39-28, to overcome a 34-25 halftime deficit.