Sophomore Keon Johnson was named 2018 Mr. Basketball in TSSAA Division II Class A at a ceremony March 6 at Middle Tennessee State University. He joined players in four other divisions statewide receiving the honors. Three players were selected as finalists in each division.
"Being named Mr. Basketball for my division means a whole lot to me based on the success I've had and the success of the team," said Johnson, a Shelbyville resident. "Mr. Basketball is good as an individual achievement, but overall, I'd like to win a state championship. It's a greater achievement." He added, "I really loved my teammates this year. Everyone cared about what we could do as a whole. Everyone knew their roles and how to play within their roles."
"It's an incredible honor for any player, but for a sophomore to win this is really incredible," said Head Coach Jeff Mitchell. "As a player, everyone sees the talent, his skill and athleticism. But I think what sets him apart this year are the leadership skills he's developed and his basketball IQ, which is obviously incredible, as well. He doesn't just play the game, he thinks the game."
Mitchell added that he does not think Johnson will be satisfied winning this honor. "I have no doubt that he's going to use this honor as a springboard, as a motivator, to improve more. I think he really desires for his team to win at the highest level."
From a coach's perspective, Mitchell explained, "You coach high school ball, and most of the time you don't get the opportunity to work with a player who has the chance to win Mr. or Miss Basketball. Also speaking for Assistant Coaches James Garcia and Scott Persichetti he said, "For us to have the opportunity to work with Keon is gratifying. We've learned a lot, and it's fun." He added, "You also have to have good players to win and to go on the run that we had. Along with Keon, we have really good players who understand their roles and do their jobs, and their jobs are not always the same. Certainly, Keon played his role, but we have others who play hard and very important roles to the best of their abilities."
Mitchell said Johnson is "maturing before our eyes. This is a great honor. I've seen people praise him. I've never seen it go to his head. He's the same guy at practice – consistent."
Johnson has praise for the team's coaches. "They all put in a lot of overtime," he said, noting that the coaches scout other teams and spend countless hours in practice and travel time before the team can even set foot on the court to play a game.
The award winner is also quick to express appreciation to others who support him on and off the court. "My family, we always stick together." He added that it is only natural that they support him in all his activities.
When his name was called at the ceremony, Johnson admits he felt a great sense of relief, knowing that in the statistics and other criteria, he had done his best. And in the end, he thanks Webb for the opportunity to attend school here and has his sights set on academics as well as basketball. "I'm just playing to get my college paid for."
Keon Johnson's MAXPREPS statistics:
Averages for 30 games played – 25.6 points per game, 4.1 assists, 10.2 rebounds, 2.6 steals, 1.5 blocks.