Logan Men Sign Redbirds' Johnson
July 21, 2015
BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services
WEST FRANKFORT – One of the premier prep basketball players in Southern Illinois the last two seasons – Hunter Johnson of West Frankfort – accepted a scholarship offer Monday from John A. Logan College.
Johnson is a 6-foot-6 shooting forward, who averaged 14.2 points and seven rebounds per game for the Redbirds this past season. He also converted 53 percent of his shots from the field and 75 percent of his free-throw attempts.
For his efforts, Johnson was named to the Eldorado Holiday and Mid-Winter Classic All-Tournament teams; River to River All-Conference; All-South; and All-State Special Mention.
As a junior, Johnson averaged 16.5 points and six rebounds a game and was selected All-Conference and All-South.
Johnson was also an outstanding track athlete for the Redbirds, capturing the state title in the high jump with a vault of 6-foot-9 this past spring.
“We’re excited to get Hunter,” said Logan fourth-year head coach Kyle Smithpeters. “He is a kid we have seen play in summer camps the last few years. He’s a great kid from a great basketball family.”
Smithpeters said Johnson has the athleticism to push for playing time as a freshman.
“His skill level is good. He can shoot the ball from the perimeter, having won a three-point shooting contest here a few months ago. He can score and handle the ball a little. We’re going to want to put some weight on his frame and help get him stronger, so that he can make the adjustment to our level.”
Smithpeters said Johnson is next in a line of in-district players who have enjoyed varying degrees of success with the Vols in recent years.
“It’s tough for kids in Southern Illinois to compete at our level, but we’ve been fortunate to have a few who have been able to do so like Aaron Adeoye (Marion); Connor Wheeler (Du Quoin); Pierre House (Murphysboro); Bobby Mannie (Herrin); and Jamie Jones (Herrin); as well as current players, Devontavius Payne (Carbondale) and Justin Lukens (Herrin). It’s been a good run and we are hopeful that Hunter will keep that run going.”
Former Redbirds head coach Dan DeWerff said he is confident Johnson has what it takes to perform well at the collegiate level.
“Hunter has such great work ethic,” DeWerff said. “His best asset is his athleticism and that makes a big difference. He can also shoot the ball from the outside, which should help. Coach Smithpeters will enjoy coaching him as I did. I think John A. Logan College has just signed a great student-athlete who will contribute to the basketball program.”
Johnson said that while he enjoyed competing in other sports, basketball has always been his first choice.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play college ball,” he said. “And I think Logan is a good fit for me. They have a winning program and I really like the coaches. I am excited about competing there the next two years.”
Johnson, who plans to pursue a degree in criminal justice, said he has kept close tabs on the Volunteers. He knows he will be challenged to raise his level of play.
“I have seen them play a few times and came away very impressed. I would like to think that I can help make the team better, and I plan to put in the work that it will take to be successful.”
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