MURFREESBORO – The MTSU women’s basketball team got its second commitment of its 2015 recruiting class on Monday and it came from one of the top basketball players in Rutherford County.
Blackman senior Alex Johnson, a 6-foot center, turned down offers from the SEC and the ACC in favor of staying close to home and playing for the Lady Raiders.
“MTSU is a place where I will be pushed,” Johnson said. “That’s home. That’s just home for me.”
Johnson said she narrowed her choices to MTSU, Ole Miss and Belmont — in that order — before eventually deciding on the Lady Raiders. She also had scholarship offers from Georgia Tech, East Tennessee State and Tennessee State among several others.
“I wanted to stay close to my family and I wanted to go somewhere that the community knew me and was very involved with the program,” Johnson said. “I feel like that is MTSU. I’ve known them for a while and, living in this town, I’ve seen their accomplishments first hand. I know some of the players by playing against them and with them (in the past). It will definitely be a good time. I’m just excited and looking forward to it.”
MTSU’s roster currently includes former Riverdale standouts Olivia Jones and Tyisha Petty. And Cannon County’s Abbey Sissom is an incoming freshman.
Johnson joins Webb School of Knoxville’s Katie Collier, a guard, as MTSU’s two commitments for 2015.
She is the third member of the Lady Blaze senior class to commit to play college basketball. MeMe Jackson has committed to play for Tennessee and Angel Allen has committed to play for Western Carolina.
Commitments are non-binding for school and player. Johnson cannot sign until Nov. 12.
Johnson, 17, averaged 12.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game as a junior in helping lead Blackman to its first TSSAA state championship in March. The Lady Blaze also were named national champions by USA TODAY, MaxPreps and ESPN.
Lady Blaze coach Chad Hibdon said MTSU had been recruiting Johnson as long or longer than any other school and added that the Lady Raiders were one of the first schools to offer a scholarship to his post player.
“It starts with the type of person she is off the court,” Hibdon explained. “Inside, she’s a really good person and I think that’s something coach (Rick) Insell tries to recruit in all his players.
“On the court, I think they see her versatility. She can play down low and she has good range from the outside. She will a big help to MTSU’s program.”
During last year’s Class AAA state tournament in Murphy Center, Johnson averaged 14.0 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 60 percent (15-of-25) from the floor.
The Tennessee Sports Writers Association’s All-State team member scored a personal tournament-high of 19 points during the state title game against Ridgeway and recorded a double-double in the state quarterfinals against Houston.
“I think that will only help me,” Johnson said of having already played in the Lady Raiders’ home gym. “It’s good that I have the experience of playing in college gyms already. Of course, they’re renovating it right now, so I’m excited about that too. I have some good memories there already.”
Contact Will Borthick at 615-278-5167 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @willborthick.