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Celtics coach says former Flyer Johnson has ‘high motor’

Jared Sullinger and Chris Johnson played against each other for two years in high school. They were teammates for one year in AAU basketball. Now they’re teammates again in the NBA.

As he waited to talk to two of his former high school teammates, Dayton sophomores Jalen Robinson and Devon Scott, on Saturday night in Kingston, R.I., the former Buckeye Sullinger discussed his former and current teammate. Asked if he thought Johnson would sign a second 10-day contract, Sullinger said, “I think so. With our injuries, he has a chance to be here.”

Sullinger was on the mark. Johnson did sign another 10-day contract on Tuesday, and he scored 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting from 3-point range in a 114-87 loss to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Johnson is familiar with that arena. He had 36 points in the semifinals and finals of the NIT in 2010.

In five games with Boston, Johnson has averaged 10.4 points and 2.8 rebounds and shot 50 percent from the field.

“He gives you everything,” Sullinger said. “He defends the ball really well. He shoots the lights out of the ball. He’s just going to make those extra effort plays. The one that stands out to me was the offensive rebound against Miami when he took it out of someone’s hands and laid it up.”

Johnson is now part of a Celtics team, coached by former Butler head coach Brad Stevens, that has lost 18 of its last 21 games. Boston will have to sign Johnson for the rest of the season if it wants to keep him when this second 10-day contract ends.

“Biggest thing I remember when he was younger is he could always impact a game with his effort, and he always got put-back baskets from the wing,” Stevens told the Boston Herald. “He’s already done that for us a couple of times. He plays with as high a motor as anybody we have. He’s always running to the right spots, always making great decisions, and it’s shown at the rim.”

Project Purple: Dayton men’s basketball players posed for a photo in purple T-shirts on Tuesday. Project Purple is part of The Herren Project, a non-profit foundation established to help people struggling with addiction. It was started by former NBA player Chris Herren, whose fight against alcohol and drug addiction was chronicled in the ESPN documentary “Unguarded.”

Signs of spring: The Dayton softball team opens the season next week, Feb. 7, against UC Santa Barbara, the first of five games in the Santa Barbara Gaucho Classic in California.

The baseball team starts play a week later, Feb. 14, at the Spartanburg (S.C.) Classic. The Flyers open with Wofford and then play Ball State and South Carolina-Upstate.

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