KISSIMMEE, Fla. – To say that Keldon Johnson isn’t your average basketball player is to severely understate what it means to be average in the first place.
“I just think different,” said Johnson, a wing who is running with Boo Williams (Va.) this week at the AAU Super Showcase. “Mentally, I see things a lot different than a lot of players I think that’s what separates me.”
Case in point, Johnson was fully aware of the “DICK’s Nationals title or bust” and “lose one game constitutes national news” climate at Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) long before he ever considered transferring there from Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.Va.).
The average player would be deterred by the pressure that accompanies that, but Johnson said it was “one of the main reasons I decided to go there.”
“Oh man I love that pressure,” Johnson said. “You could have had an undefeated season going into the DICK’s Nationals, but if you don’t win it all than you had a terrible season. That kind of pressure brings out the best in me. Knowing I’ll have that pressure will make me be at my best every day.”
After falling to Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) in the quarterfinals last season, the Warriors will certainly be one of the favorites to win the DICK’s Nationals title next season with newcomers like Johnson, a five-star recruit in the ESPN 100, Ashton Hagans, a five-star point guard, and Josh Nickelberry, a four-star shooting guard.
“I played with Ashton at the Nike Elite 100 last year and he’s a great point guard,” Johnson said. “Nickelberry is really good too. We’ve got a lot of players who really like to share the ball, which is big. Then we’ve got a legend in Coach (Steve) Smith. The best thing, though, is, like I said, that pressure. We know the goal and we all want to accomplish that. That pressure is gonna make us special.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY