(Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca)
Finally, the wait is over for Marshall County High School senior standout Kedren Johnson, who made his college commitment in front of his senior class to play basketball next year for the Vanderbilt Commodores.
Johnson was heavily recruited by as many as ten different major college programs, but narrowed his choices down to Louisville, Florida, Alabama, and Vanderbilt by the Wednesday morning announcement at MCHS.
Johnson had those four school ball caps in front of him and he eliminated Louisville first, Alabama second, and then Florida before he donned the Vandy hat to cement his commitment.
After Johnson put on the Vandy cap he proclaimed, "I will be starting my new beginning under coach Kevin Stallings and Vanderbilt University."
The 2009-2010 Mr. Basketball finalist said about his decision to attend Vanderbilt over the other three powerhouse programs, "It was coach Stallings and they have a lot of good things going on and have a lot of potential. I have built some close relationships with some of the players and I have built a pretty strong relationship with assistant coach (Dan) Muller."
Johnson added, "They were one of the first schools to start recruiting me and they have always had this vision that I finally bought into."
Vanderbilt has been relentless in their pursuit of Johnson, beginning the recruitment process when the 6'4, 210 lb. point guard was a sophomore.
"Relentless is a great word for it," said MCHS head coach Jason Tigert. "Coach Stallings and coach Muller just took it to a whole new level and did some unique things. At one point last year when we were playing in Nashville, the entire Vanderbilt basketball team was there recruiting Kedren. This is a program effort and commitment to recruit Kedren."
Tigert added, "It's exciting. I have been a Vanderbilt fan for a long time, going back to the C.M. Newton days and the 1980's. Extremely exciting for me, I will get to go see him live from time to time. Vanderbilt is great basketball and great academics."
Johnson, who stated that he would not change his mind before national signing day in November wanted to make the announcement now before the season started so he can concentrate on helping the Tigers make a return trip to the state tournament where they lost 64-58 in the semifinals to eventual champion Bolivar in overtime.
"That was the main reason to get this out of the way so I can be completely focused to win the first state championship for Marshall County," said Johnson.
Tigert has put together a schedule for the 2010-2011 season that is a murderer's row for the first month of the season, beginning with Hall of Fame battles with defending 2A champ Bolivar on November 19, followed by a game with state runner-up Liberty Tech Magnet School the next night.
The Tigers' first home game will be against Columbia Central and on Thanksgiving weekend, MCHS will travel to Peoria, Ill to take part in the State Farm Classic.
After a home game versus 3A Lawrence County, the Tigers will get another set of back-to-back games versus Clarksville NE and Livingston Academy at TSU.
Johnson averaged 22 points, 8 rebounds, and five assists a game as a junior last year and was a member of the All-State Team as well as being honored with the Tennessean Player of the Year Award.
He was District MVP in 2009 and 2010 and Region MVP last year.