Johnson takes home Class 2A Mr. Basketball Award

Friday, March 9, 2018
Marshall County High School junior KJ Johnson accepts the 2018 Class AA Mr. Basketball Award from Mike Reed, president of the TSSA Board of Control.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

Marshall County High School junior Kadrion “KJ” Johnson won the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s 34th Annual Mr. Basketball Award Tuesday night, accepting the honor on the floor of the Murphy Center at Middle Tennessee State University.

“I just give all the glory to God, I thank him so much” Johnson said. “I put in a lot of work in the off-season to get to this point and thank everybody who helped me through the way.”

“These are the best of the best, the cream of the crop, so it is very nice that he is honored with this award,” Marshall County coach Lavon King said.

The Mr. and Miss Basketball winners pose after the ceremony. Bottom row from left are Miss Basketball winners Ashton Hulme, Sydni Harvey, Courtney Pritchett, Akira Levy, and Rhyne Howard. Top row from left are Mr. Basketball winners, Keon Johnson, Darius Garland, Caden Mills, Kadrion Johnson, and Tyler Harris.

Johnson is the second Tiger hoopster to win the award with current MCHS assistant coach Kedren Johnson garnering the honor in 2011.

“I wasn’t for sure honestly I was going to win it,” Johnson said. “I knew there was a lot of good players, they have put in a lot of work this season and I knew it was going to be a tough choice, but I am just glad I was it.”

The lefty gunslinger, who scored his 1,000 career point early in the season, put up huge numbers this year for the Tigers, averaging 31.4 points per game and banged home 114 three-pointers for a 3.6 average per contest.

KJ Johnson averaged 31.4 points per game and made 114 three-pointers this season for the Tigers, who finished with a 22-10 record and back-to-back district titles.

“Hopefully I can do it again or get more,” Johnson said. “I just have to put more work in during the off-season.”

The 6-foot-2 guard also averaged four rebounds and four assists per game and scored a career high 53 points versus intra-county rival Forrest in the District 12-AA semifinals, just two points shy of Kedren Johnson’s single-game scoring record.

After senior point guard Caleb Fields left Marshall County for the greener pastures in Kentucky, Johnson had to pick up the slack and he did it in a big way.

“I understand I had to step up and I had to make plays for my team because it wasn’t going to be easy, so I just tried my hardest and put in work throughout the season,” Johnson said.

Johnson put on a show at the Franklin Road Academy Christmas Tournament, pouring in 46 points versus the host Panthers in a game in which he was unstoppable.

He scored 45 points in the Tigers’ District 12-AA title game win over Murfreesboro Central Magnet and had two 43-point games, at Unionville and in the Region 6-AA Tournament semifinal loss to Nolensville.

Johnson was virtually un-guardable in many of the games as he was surrounded by two or three defenders, but his ability to get off a shot with just a few inches of daylight and his super athletic talent in driving to the hoop was a sight to see.

“He’s a competitor and a great kid,” King said. “He is in the gym earlier than I am.”

“He just steps up to the plate every time we need a big play and wants the ball, those kind of players are few and far between.”

Johnson and the Tigers never let the distractions bother them as they posted an impressive 22-10 record and won the District 12-AA Tournament title, marking back-to-back district crowns for MCHS.

MCHS advanced all the way to the Region 6-AA Tournament semifinals before losing to host Nolensville by eight points.

“We got underestimated a lot this year, but I’m proud of us and where we ended up at,” Johnson added. “We definitely want to make it to where we stopped this year or get even farther next year.”

Johnson currently has offers from UT-Martin, the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and Morehead State in Kentucky.

He has visited MTSU and has recently been contacted by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

2018 Mr. and Miss Basketball Award Winners

Division II-A Miss Basketball

Ashton Hulme, University School of Jackson

Division II-AA Miss Basketball

Sydni Harvey, Brentwood Academy

Class A Miss Basketball

Courtney Pritchett, Pickett County

Class AA Miss Basketball

Akira Levy, Upperman

Class AAA Miss Basketball

Rhyne Howard, Bradley Central

Division II-A Mr. Basketball

Keon Johnson, The Webb School

Division II-AA Mr. Basketball

Darius Garland, Brentwood Academy

Class A Mr. Basketball

Caden Mills, Van Buren County

Class AA Mr. Basketball

Kadrion Johnson, Marshall County

Class AAA Mr. Basketball

Tyler Harris, Cordova