Brandon Johns knows he has the capability of putting up big scoring numbers on a nightly basis.
That just wasn’t that important to him.
It also wasn’t his nature.
“A lot of coaches have said I need to be more selfish with the ball,” Johns said. “I like to get my teammates involved in the game. Scoring – that’s not that important to me as long as we’re doing good and playing good as a team and my teammates are involved and we’re winning.”
East Lansing did all of those things behind Johns, who leads the LSJ boys basketball Dream Team as the player of the year.
Johns averaged 19.7 points and 10 rebounds a game while earning numerous all-state honors and leading the Trojans to their first perfect regular season since 1963. East Lansing went 23-1 and captured CAAC Blue and Class A district titles while being ranked in the Associated Press poll all season.
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And the 6-foot-7 Johns had an all-around impact on the court, doing more than just scoring and rebounding for the Trojans. He relished being able to block shots and a wide variety of other things on the court besides scoring. And he enjoyed getting a talented and capable group of teammates involved because he knows it takes more than one person for teams to be successful.
“I take a lot of pride in that (versatility),” Johns said. “I think it helped our team get through most of the challenges that we faced this year. That was a big part for me and helps get other people in the game.”
While scoring wasn’t a primary focus for Johns, he showed an ability to do it effectively when needed. And he also made himself a more dangerous threat with his ability from behind the 3-point arc. He knocked down 45 3s while shooting 41 percent from 3-point range during the regular season.
That improvement was part of a sophomore year where Johns, who is regarded as one of the nation’s top 2018 basketball prospects – took another step for the Trojans and cemented himself as one of the state’s best.
“With no disrespect to Cassius Winston, he’s the best all-around player in the state of Michigan,” East Lansing coach Steve Finamore said. “He impacts the game at both ends. He shares the ball. He can shoot the ball from the outside and he can score inside. The most important thing about being the best all-around player in the state is he’s the best teammate by far. He doesn’t care about scoring.
“In today’s game and today’s culture in basketball, everybody wants to score. Brandon only averaged 19 points a game and he could have got 25-30 a game if we wanted. He took a backseat to guys. Next year, he’ll step it up.”
Johns is focused on being better to help East Lansing to an even better season next year. The Trojans’ run at perfection ended with a loss to Everett in the regional final, providing offseason fuel for Johns and a large group of returning teammates.
“We’ll be back,” Johns said. “We have bigger goals and hopefully we will achieve those goals.”
Contact Brian Calloway at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.