The Sixers are expected to use the second overall pick on Ohio State junior Evan Turner, assuming the Washington Wizards take Kentucky's John Wall at No. 1.
Johnson, a 6-foot-7 junior, is projected to go fourth to the Minnesota Timberwolves, after Derrick Favors of Georgia Tech to the New Jersey Nets.
"I mean, he's going to be really good," the coach said. "So from that standpoint, you see a guy and are like, 'It's fun to see somebody with that type of talent.' "
The Sixers put Johnson through a solo workout that included isolation and pick-and-roll drills. The team was impressed with his conditioning, demeanor, and the way he responded to coaching.
Johnson played one season at Syracuse after transferring from Iowa State. The 22-year-old became the first transfer student to garner Big East player-of-the-year honors. He did that by averaging 16.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game. Johnson shot 50.2 percent from the field - including 41.5 percent on three-pointers.
"I think it's a good shot for me to come here," Johnson said of becoming a Sixer. "It's just up to them to evaluate everything and wait on [June] 24th. But I think I have a good shot of coming here."
A concern about Johnson is his ability to play man-to-man defense in the NBA. He played exclusively in a 2-3 zone with the Orange.
"Everybody got the stigma of the zone," Johnson said. "'Oh, he's in the zone. It's probably hard for him to play man.'
"But I grew up playing [man-to-man]. It all comes down to want-to. So really, I just have to carry that over and show them I can."
Collins isn't worried about how Johnson will adjust defensively.
"Well, I can tell you most guys coming out of college aren't very good defensively," he said. "If they are, they probably aren't very good offensively. It takes a rare guy in college to be really good at both ends of the floor."
But judging from Collins' praise, Johnson could end up as a perennial all-star. The coach said Johnson reminded him a little bit of Scottie Pippen. The former seven-time NBA all-star will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in August.
Johnson has "a little Scottie, a late-developer, long arms, rangy," said Collins, who drafted Pippen in 1987 as the coach of the Chicago Bulls. "Not as good a ball handler right now as Scottie. He's a better shooter. But he's got the lanky, rangy body. He's got a real good feel."
Contact staff writer Keith Pompey
at 610-313-8029 or firstname.lastname@example.org.