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Keddy Johnson Has Shown He Can Be as Impactful on Defense as Jevon Carter

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Senior Kedrian Johnson defends Akron's Garvin Clarke along the baseline Oct. 29 at the WVU Coliseum. (WVSN photo by Kelsie LeRose)

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. –  Kedrian Johnson doesn’t just have the nickname, “Keddy.” When Johnson was young, his father called him “rip” because he used to rip the ball from people.

“I’ve been playing defense for a long time,” Johnson said.

In his senior season, Johnson has been comfortable with his new role in the starting lineup. The Dallas, Texas, native has played a huge part in the West Virginia defense, that just allows 60.9 points through 13 games. Johnson so far is averaging 4.6 points, 2.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.2 steals per game. Johnson has thee games of at least four steals, with a seven-steal performance against Pitt back in November.

For Johnson, he hasn’t always been known as just a defensive player. Yeah, his pops called him “rip” but Johnson was one of the best scorers in the country in junior college before coming to WVU. In his sophomore season at Temple College, located in Temple, Texas, Johnson averaged 25.6 points on 46 percent shooting overall and 38 percent from three. His JUCO team was known for scoring a lot, so much so that they would hang banners for how many games they would score 100 points.

“Keddy was one of the leading junior college scorers in the country,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said. “We’re just trying to make him understand that it’s not just all scoring here.”

When Huggins was out recruiting Johnson, it wasn’t his offense that drew his attention, it was his defense. Huggins saw a mold of Jevon Carter, in Johnson. Carter played a huge piece in the ‘Press Virginia’ teams in the mid-2010’s, becoming the school’s all-time steals leader with 330. The 40-year coaching veteran ended up showing Johnson some of Carter’s highlights, hoping that the future WVU guard would buy in and have the desire to play like the NBA guard.

“He [Huggins] didn’t even have to bring it up to me because watching West Virginia [with] Jevon Carter, it was defense, defense, defense, getting stops,” Johnson said. “On my visit he kind of modeled me, showed me Jevon Carter’s things and told me that I could do some of the same things and that I was capable of doing some of those same things.”

Johnson may not break Carter’s all-time steals record at West Virginia, but he will have an impact on defense to set the Mountaineers up in positions to win games. Johnson is in his second season at WVU and has already proven that. In a game against Oklahoma State last season, the Mountaineers were down 19 points with just 11 minutes to go. Huggins tried something different and threw in Johnson to help guard the future No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft, Cade Cunningham. The 6-foot-3 guard turned the game around by stealing balls, diving for loose ones and hitting a huge three pointer to cut the lead down to four. West Virginia went on to complete the comeback, winning on the road, 87-84.

From that point on, Johnson slowly saw his minutes increase, until he was named the starting point guard in October. The senior guard will continue to put West Virginia in positions to win games with his defense as long as he is a Mountaineer.

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Ethan Bock is pursuing his bachelor’s degree in journalism at WVU. He currently is an intern with the Final Fourcast podcast. Ethan has covered WVU football and men’s basketball for the last year. He is from Cincinnati, Ohio.

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