Johnson chooses junior college to advance his basketball skills

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By Laura Clark

Donovan Johnson, who helped lead the Rockets to the State Tournament this season with his emotional intensity, signed Thursday with Wabash Valley College, a junior college located in Illinois.

Johnson had hoped to play for a Division I school following his senior year. He had played varsity for the Rockets for four years and this season joined the 1,000-point scorers club. He also was named an All-State honorable mention.

“I think Donovan’s best basketball may lie ahead,” SCHS Coach Mike Clark said. “He’s 17 years old today, and certainly I think he’s going to be better at 22 years of age.”

Johnson took such advice from friends and family to heart in making his decision. Wabash also offered him a full scholarship as another incentive.

“The fact that the coach put seven players in the NBA and this year alone, they had eight people go Division I…so I want to go there even more,” Johnson said. “I need to work on my shooting and ball handling. I figure I can go there and work on my game, and it will all work out.”

Johnson had kept his signing quiet, even from friends and teammates, but in a short span the SCHS library filled with his supporters. Clark, who had just learned of the ceremony that morning, said it was a testament to the kind of person Johnson is.

“Donovan has always been one of the most unselfish players I’ve ever coached,” he said.

Johnson has formed an unlikely friendship with another future Wabash player, Ian Chiles, who  played for the  Ballard team that defeated Shelby County, 90-80, in the first round of the Sweet 16 this season.

But Chiles and Johnson have attended several workouts together, including a trip to Wabash.

“Me and Ian went up there and worked out with them,” Johnson said. “They liked us on the spot.”

Johnson said he’s got a chemistry with Chiles, who he said was soon anticipating his moves and throwing him ally-oops, similar to the way he worked so well with Rockets teammates.

Johnson also proved himself in the classroom, and his grades meet NCAA requirements, allowing him the option of moving on to a D-I school if he gets the right offer.

“I’m going to work hard for the next two years and make the most of my time at Wabash,” Johnson said.