Johnson at forefront of strong Eagles team
Keymonta Johnson consistently manages to do a little bit of everything on the basketball court.
That has added up to a lot this season for Illinois Valley Community College (IVCC). Johnson, a freshman forward for the Eagles' men's basketball team, has been at or near the top of the team in a variety of categories: he is a big reason why IVCC got off to a strong start.
As of Jan. 5, according to IVCC's statistics on www.njcaa.org, Johnson was third on the team in scoring average at 14.1 points per game; third in rebounding with 5.9 boards a contest; and first in both assists (3) and steals (1.4) a night.
Johnson was especially effective in offensive rebounding, taking down 3.1 offensive rebounds per game, for a total of 50 over the first 16 games. That total ranked 12th in the National Junior College Athletic Association's Division II.
He has come a long way from his early days in the sport, when he started playing in fifth grade at Oak Grove Elementary School. Johnson first got into basketball by watching it on TV, and then wanting to try it himself, he said.
Family influence fueled his interest, as well.
“I had brothers, too, and they played basketball,” Johnson told the Illinois Valley Times.
What has kept Johnson in the game and made it his life's work, however, is the element of teamwork.
“I love working with other people and meet new people,” he said.
Johnson went on to star at MacArthur High School in Decatur. In his senior season alone for the Generals, Johnson was a Associated Press Class 3A All-State Honorable Mention pick, according to ihsa.org, as well as an all-league pick in the Central State Eight Conference, he said.
According to his profile page on www.ncsasports.org, he averaged 17 points per game. Those results took him to IVCC to further his game.
“I just, like, went there on a visit in the summer, everything seemed cool, I talked about it with my family and decided to go there,” he said.
The transition from high school ball to the college game was an “eye-opener,” Johnson said, with its quicker, faster and stronger players.
“Everybody's bigger and a little stronger, so I had to, like, get in the weight room and get bigger and eat better,” he said.
Johnson adjusted quickly and found success, something the Eagles have mirrored. IVCC won 12 of its first 16 games this season; it has been among the leaders nationally in various categories, as well.
In games played through Jan. 5, the Eagles were eighth in Division II with a team field-goal percentage of 50.7; ninth in blocks per game with 6.4; and 11th in three-point percentage at 39.4.
To tie back to what he likes best about basketball, Johnson said the Eagles' strength is their teamwork.
“Everybody wants to win, so we play unselfishly,” he said. “Everybody want to see everybody score, so I think that's been it.”