Jarvis Johnson couldn't stop smiling. He lit up from the moment he stepped on the court. He laughed and dunked effortlessly in warmups at Tuesday's Twin Cities Pro Am championship game at DeLaSalle.
He was ready to put on a show.
Fans packed the gym at Johnson's alma mater to see him team up with former Gophers teammate Joey King to edge out in overtime a team featuring Apple Valley junior standout Tre Jones.
All eyes were on Johnson when he had the ball. The 6-foot-1 guard dropped a few jumpers, finished layups strong after fouls and looked a lot like the player who won four state titles with the Islanders in high school.
He's not medically cleared to play for the Gophers by U doctors because of a heart condition.
But his personal doctors gave him the OK to play in the summer league. Minnesota basketball coach Richard Pitino didn't stop him because he's not technically considered a Division I scholarship athlete (otherwise he couldn't play because the league isn't NCAA certified).
So Johnson showed up. And he had a blast.
"I played in about 8-9 games in the Pro Am," he said. "I felt good. It was fun."
Timberwolves guard Tyus Jones, who attended to watch his brother, was impressed with Johnson "looking like his old self". They played AAU ball together for Howard Pulley in high school.
The future for Johnson's college playing career is uncertain. As long as he's with the Gophers, he most likely will remain just a spectator. There might be options to transfer. But his family is grateful for the scholarship and having him home right now.
And they enjoyed watching him play in the Pro Am on Tuesday, especially his father who is recovering from a stroke.
King, who was a senior last season, was glad Johnson was available to play with his squad in the championship game. They were short a player. Johnson originally was on a team with former Gophers forward Trevor Mbakwe.
"He played well," King said. "We started off really struggling in the Pro Am in the beginning, but we ended the season 8-1. This group of guys just kept competing and it paid off for us."
King said he hopes to decide in a couple weeks where he will play overseas. Pitino left open the possibility of being a graduate assistant. But the former Eastview standout wants to pursue a pro basketball career first.